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Farhan Zaidi addresses back of rotation as Giants deal with injuries



© Ron Chenoy | 2023 Jun 6

With Alex Wood and Ross Stripling both currently shelved on the injured list, the Giants have been operating with three traditional starters in their rotation.

Sean Manaea, who was moved to the bullpen earlier this year due to poor performance, has made bulk appearances in relief. The Giants have resorted to several bullpen games, and have two games this upcoming weekend with a starter listed as TBA.

On his regular appearance with Tolbert & Copes, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said “we have the depth options” to help the team if needed.

“Obviously Webb and Cobb have done a great job for us at the top of the rotation,” Zaidi said. “DeSclafani has been solid. He’s had a couple more crooked numbers for us lately, but we love the fact that he comes in and throws strikes. The way we’re playing defensively with his stuff, we think he’s going to continue to throw the ball well. But yeah, with Wood and Stripling on the IL, the fourth and fifth spot has been more up in the air. Manaea is really sort of operating as a starter. He’s given us four or five innings every time he goes up there. We started opening for him to take a little bit of the pressure off. Sometimes guys actually get into more of a groove and can work their way into a game better behind an opener. And that’s one of those things where if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Since getting moved to the bullpen, Manaea has a 2.93 ERA in 15.1 innings across five games. He had three consecutive scoreless appearances before allowing four earned runs in Coors Field Wednesday night.

“We may keep him in that role, we may get him back to starting,” Zaidi said. “Then to your point: Kyle Harrison, Tristan Beck — who’s on the pitching staff right now and done a nice job for us — Sean Hjelle and Keaton Winn in Sacramento, too. So we have some other options if Alex Wood and Ross Stripling take a little more time to get back.”

The biggest name Zaidi mentioned in that series is Harrison. The top left-handed pitching prospect in baseball currently has a 3.55 ERA in 12 starts at Triple-A. He’s the most stretched out, on a pitch count basis, of any River Cats pitcher, but he still hasn’t pitched into the fifth inning.

Zaidi has said in the past that Harrison needs to demonstrate better command of the strike zone before becoming a consideration. On the season, Harrison has walked 34 batters in 38 innings while dealing with a tighter zone dictated by the automated balls and strikes system.

Harrison has still been a strikeout machine, registering 15.6 K/9, and is working on a new slider that he can locate in the zone more frequently.

“We’d certainly like for somebody like Kyle Harrison to come up and grab one of those spots and be pitching more at the front of the rotation than the middle or the back,” Zaidi said. “But we’ll just have to see how he does start to start. There’s a lot of reasons to be optimistic, but we still think he’s got a couple things to work on.”

Outside of the pitching staff, the Giants are as healthy as they have been all season. With a fully equipped batting order, San Francisco earned a three-game sweep of the Rockies in Coors Field.

But with clean health, the Giants have the good problem of a full roster. Catcher Joey Bart, who is on a rehab assignment with Sacramento, might not have a clear path to returning to the Giants roster if everyone remains healthy. Neither does Luis Matos, the center fielder has been demolishing Triple-A pitching.

Matos is batting .375 and has 11 multi-hit games in 19 games with the River Cats. When asked about the Giants’ intentions at the Aug. 1 trade deadline, Zaidi mentioned Matos — not as a trade chip, but as a piece the Giants may need to clear space to bring up.

“We’re at a point now where we really want the engine of this team to come from in-house,” Zaidi concluded. “Luis Matos is playing really well in Triple-A. We don’t really have a spot for him right now. If he continues to produce, we may try to create one. We’ve got a pretty deep team and a deep roster.”

Listen to the full interview above. You can listen to every KNBR interview on our podcast page at knbr.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Catch Tolbert & Copes weekdays from 2 – 6 p.m. on KNBR 104.5 / 680 and streaming live on KNBR.com.