On-Air Now
On-Air Now
Listen Live from the Casino Matrix Studio

On eve of 1st start since May, Sean Manaea ‘100%’ considers himself a starting pitcher



© Ray Acevedo | 2023 Aug 31

When the Giants announced their starting pitchers for their three-game series against the Cleveland Guardians, something stood out. Or rather, the absence of something was distinct. 

There were no TBAs listed. 

Veteran Alex Cobb is taking the ball in Monday’s opener, followed by Sean Manaea and rookie Kyle Harrison. The middle name might as well have been printed in bold. 

“I think he’s done a nice job over the course of the last three or four months of cutting down some of the tougher left-handed batters,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “The Guardians have quite a few left-handed bats on their roster. I know this is something he’s working really hard for, and we want to reward that work. “

Manaea, whom the Giants added this winter on a two-year, $25 million deal, is set to make his first start since May 10. Since then, in a full-time bullpen role, he’s earned four wins, three holds and his first career save while posting a 3.86 ERA. 

On the season, Manaea has a 5.00 ERA — with a 4.08 FIP — in 33 games (six starts).

Manaea has done well with the flexible role, either pitching behind an opener, coming in for multiple innings or taking down pockets of left-handed hitters in opposing lineups. Even as the Giants have operated for large swaths of the schedule with only Cobb and Logan Webb as traditional starters, the Giants have kept Manaea in the pen. 

But he’s still confident that, in the present and future, he can be a productive traditional starting pitcher. 

“Yeah, 100%, I view myself as a starter,” Manaea said when asked if he views himself as a starter for the future. 

Manaea has an opt-out after this season, so he could depart the Giants for a team that might guarantee him a more ironclad role. 

Although he’s never publicly complained about his role this year, that could be something that piques his interest. 

“I definitely think I can start games, start effectively,” Manaea siad. “Yeah, as long as I feel like I can do that with efficiency, do that job to the best of my ability. Things change, and I want to play this game for a long time, so however that’s possible, I’ll cross that bridge when we get there.” 

Another player with a similar contract situation to Manaea is Ross Stripling, who remains on the injured list despite being completely healthy. Stripling threw a 55-pitch simulated game against Michael Conforto and Paul DeJong Monday, so he won’t get activated for at least another few days. 

Stripling hit the injured list with a mild back injury in mid-July with the expectation that he’d be fully geared up to pitch for September. But the Giants have instead kept him on the IL, in part to give younger pitchers like Keaton Winn and Tristan Beck a chance. 

When asked over the weekend about how the unfortunate situation might impact his offseason decision-making, Stripling said that hadn’t yet crept into his mind. But, after a few days and several reporters asking him about the topic, he had more thoughts Monday. 

“I haven’t pitched well enough to opt out,” Stripling said. “I think if I could have gotten healthy and had a good September, it might’ve been in the realm, but really in my head now I am a 2024 Giant. And ready to work with these guys over the offseason to figure some stuff out and get better. Show up to spring training ready to rock and be a Giant. That’s 100% where I am, I haven’t talked to my agent or anything like that — I don’t imagine he’d tell me anything different. But I’m 100% committed to being a Giant and doing better than I have this year.” 

While Stripling is a savvy, cerebral veteran, things could change once he eventually does consult with his agent this fall. Teams are always on the prowl for starting pitching, and his $12.5 million option is in the ballpark of what pitchers his caliber get on the market. 

It’s quite possible a different team offers him a multi-year deal for slightly less money, or even more than the $12.5 million the Giants are on the hook for for a single season. In those hypotheticals, he’d have a much cleaner path to a true starting role; the Giants could have a rotation next year of Webb, Cobb, Harrison, Winn, Tristan Beck and a slew of other promising prospects in the upper-minors. 

Stripling is just one year removed from posting a 3.01 ERA in 24 starts for the Toronto Blue Jays. Aside from getting asked about it daily, there’s no reason for him to decide on his plans for 2024 and beyond now. 

  • Michael Conforto is nearing a return from his hamstring injury and is still considered day-to-day.

    Who comes off the roster whenever Conforto gets activated is an interesting question to monitor. It’ll have to be a position player, but the Giants’ 28-man roster is practically full right now.

    Given Luis Matos’ red-hot stretch, the most likely candidates to make room for Conforto could come from the middle infield. Between Paul DeJong and Casey Schmitt, there’s a pinch of redundancy. Schmitt has options, but the Giants would need to designate DeJong for assignment to take him off the roster.

  • Patrick Bailey is expected to return from the concussion injured list on Wednesday, when he’s eligible. That roster move is much more straightforward, with Joey Bart almost certainly heading back to Sacramento as soon as Bailey is ready. 

  • Cobb is starting the series opener on extra rest after he received a cortisone shot to relieve pain and inflammation in his hip.

    Cobb last pitched on Sept. 3, when he gave up four runs in three innings. Before that, he delivered 131 pitches while losing his no-hit bid with two outs in the ninth inning.