As the Giants enjoy the All Star break, they’re able to take a much needed breather following a 16-game stretch of baseball with no rest.
However, while the break was needed for numerous players to get healthy, the organization also can’t forget the fact that they are caught in a tight race for the NL West with almost every team in the division.
They could certainly use a healthy Jeff Samardzija to get over the hump, but the right-handers shoulder injury continues to loom.
Giants beat writer for The Athletic Andrew Baggarly, stopped by the Fitz & Brooks Podcast to talk about Samardzija’s issue, and how it could affect the rest of the staff moving forward.
“I think inflammation is the best way to put it, and you can tell,” Baggarly said. “He was throwing about 88-89, and then he gets 10 pitches into an inning and he is hitting 91-92. So I think it is there, but he is really having a hard time getting lose. And that really can’t transition him to ‘well maybe he can pitch relief.’ You kind of need those guys to come in ready too. So I wonder what they are going to do.”
Samardzija recently came off the disabled list for the same injury, has been battling shoulder issues for the better part of the season. He made his MLB debut in 2008 and has always relied more on power in his pitches, rarely flashing a change-up and catching guys off speed.
“He is 34 and has a relatively young arm as far as 34-year-olds go,” Baggarly said, “but he has never really been a trick ’em pitcher. He has always been a power pitcher and if that power is not there, he is going to have to figure out something else and the Giants are going to have to figure something else out.”
While the Giants have lost all their veteran presences in the starting rotation at some point this season, pitching hasn’t been the giants biggest concern, due in large part to the young starters on staff.
Andrew Suarez, Dereck Rodriguez, and Chris Stratton have started in almost half of the games this season for the Giants, and have been consistently good, allowing the Giants to put together the first half they had while battling through so many injuries.
Baggarly, however, thinks more needs to be done if they want to win the division.
“They [Rodriguez, Stratton, and Suarez] have exceeded expectations and you don’t want to have to rely on that to continue,” Baggarly said. “I think it has been something really huge that has helped the Giants be over .500 entering the break, but for them to really start soaring in the second half, I think they are going to need their rookies to pitch really well and they are going to need Johnny Cueto to re-establish himself as a front of rotation kind of guy.”
With the now presumed arrival of power swinger Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Arizona Diamondbacks with a lot of assets to make a move before the July 31st MLB trade deadline, the NL West is likely to only get more competitive in the second half of the season. If the Giants want to stay in the hunt for the division title, the pitching has to be more consistent against these offensive threats looming in the rest of the division.
Listen to the full interview below. To hear Baggarly on Samardzija start at 7:30