The Giants may be asking Jeff Samardzija to save their season.
The 35-year-old is starting the nightcap of Friday’s doubleheader, a first chance since injuring his shoulder Aug. 7 and having spent the past few weeks in Sacramento obscurity.
As the Giants limp amid a 13-games-in-12-days sprint, with a depleted bullpen and a rotation they would rather not turn to on short rest, they added Samardzija as their 29th man, following Tyler Anderson’s start against a powerful Padres club.
Barring an unforeseen playoff run or reunion, this will be Samardzija’s goodbye, finishing up a five-year contract that has had its moments but ultimately will go down as a disappointment for the club.
“One of the things that I respect most about about Shark is how much he wants the baseball,” Gabe Kapler said over Zoom from Oracle Park before the doubleheader. “This is an opportunity that he has been pushing for, asking for, was very, very excited to get. I respect that about him. He wants the ball in the biggest moments. He’s happy to put a team on his shoulders if he’s capable of handling that, and he believes he is. We believe in him. I’m glad that Jeff is getting this opportunity.”
Samardzija could go five-plus innings after his work at the alternate site, and the Giants will need whatever he can give. Tyler Rogers has pitched three days straight; Tony Watson, Sam Coonrod, Sam Selman, Jarlin Garcia, Caleb Baragar and Trevor Cahill at least two out of three. The Giants would love Anderson to give length in Game 1, and if he can’t, they’re in major trouble for both games.
Kapler called his depleted pen “one of the hazards of trying to win an extra-inning game,” which the Giants could not do Thursday and could go down as the season’s biggest regret.
San Francisco enters play with a tenuous grasp on the eighth wild-card spot, half a game up on Philadelphia and a game ahead of Milwaukee.
At this critical stage they will ask a pitcher who posted a 9.88 ERA in 13 2/3 innings in late July and early August to give quality innings, hoping the shoulder was to blame for his ineffectiveness.
Mike Yastrzemski, back in the lineup and in right field, said he will try to be smart about running, picking his spots coming off a calf sprain. He won’t bust it for a routine fly ball.
“I wanted to get back as soon as possible,” Yastrzemski said, “but at the same time be smart about it because I want to be able to play for a few more weeks, not just a few more days.”
The Giants wanted to see how Yastrzemski and Joey Bart got through Game 1 before deciding upon Game 2.