The Giants’ rotation might be full, bringing five solid options into camp.
They would far prefer for it to be overflowing, though.
After a season unlike any other, in which Johnny Cueto led the staff with 63 1/3 innings pitched, every team will have to be exceedingly careful with its pitchers for another season unlike most others. Teams like to build up workloads delicately from one season to another, fearful of injuries. If the Giants allowed their rotation to throw every fifth day without interruption, workloads would be at least tripled.
Pitching depth for a season that is expected to expand back to 162 games will be enormous. And as it stands now, the Giants have very little.
Internally, one of the top options has left for the KBO in Andrew Suarez. The next best bet is Conner Menez, who pitched in seven games out of the bullpen in 2020, was demoted and oddly never recalled.
The Giants are “still high on him, a guy who’s missed a lot of bats in the minor leagues,” Farhan Zaidi said recently of the lefty, who allowed two earned in 11 1 /3 innings last season (2.38 ERA) after struggling in his 2019 debut.
Anthony Banda, another southpaw, is also a contender. The Giants picked up the 27-year-old from the Rays for cash considerations last season and sent him to Sacramento. They re-signed Banda, who has thrown 51 1/3 big-league innings since 2017, this offseason to a minor league deal.
He has both started and relieved in the majors but, “I think we’ll go into camp envisioning him in a starting role and then go from there,” Zaidi said.
In terms of in-house depth, that’s about it. Sean Hjelle is the closest starting pitching prospect to being ready, but the 23-year-old, who touched Double-A in 2019, worked from home in 2020, not invited to the alternate site.
They have made a few minor league signings who have starting experience, such as Yunior Marte, but they don’t yet have the options they entered camp with last year in Trevor Cahill and Tyson Ross. Cahill, who made the team, actually pitched well last season and is still available, and a reunion would make sense. Tyler Anderson also is unsigned, and Zaidi has said he remains in contact with the lefty’s representatives after the Giants nontendered him.
The Giants got up-close looks at free agents Anibal Sanchez and Julio Teheran this week, according to a source. The former might be able to be brought in on a minor league pact; the latter might push Logan Webb to Triple-A to begin the season.
Other veterans who may not score a major league deal before camp starts — allegedly next month — include Homer Bailey (the Giants love former Reds), Mike Foltynewicz and Ivan Nova. If the Giants aim higher, James Paxton, Rich Hill and Taijuan Walker are intriguing options.
The Giants have done a lot of work on the rotation, re-signing Kevin Gausman and adding Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood. A bit more needs to be done.
“Even the traditional 200-inning guys are coming off seasons where they threw maybe 70 innings because of the shortened year,” Zaidi said. “I think managing workloads and making sure you have enough depth to get through the season from a pitching standpoint is going to be really important. … It’s not out of the question we could add a veteran.”