Today’s the day! San Francisco Giants players are in camp. Workouts for the 2020 season will start tomorrow as pitchers and catchers have now officially reported for Spring Training.
Baseball is here!
Opening Day is only 44 short days away.
There’s a ton of players in camp this season and first up in our 2020 Spring Training Preview is the pitchers.
Last season, the San Francisco Giants pitching staff was pretty average, finishing in the middle of the pack in most statistical categories. They had a 4.38 ERA, 15th in baseball out of 30 teams. Their batting average against was 12th best, and HR’s allowed were 14th best in all of baseball. Other than that, the Giants didn’t strike a lot of guys out, only averaging 8.4 K’s per 9 innings, 23rd in the league.
Do we have any idea if those numbers will improve in 2020? Not really. Gabe Kapler is the new manager and we have no idea how he will deploy his pitching staff. Former AL Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey is the new pitching coach. Last season, Bailey was a bullpen coach with the Los Angeles Angels. Brian Bannister is the Director of Pitching after working his way up the Red Sox coaching staff and front office over the past few years.
Again, we are embarking on a new adventure with the 2020 San Francisco Giants. Here’s a list of all the pitchers who will be in Scottsdale at Spring Training. First we’ll take a look at those currently on the 40-man roster, then take a peek at the non-roster invitee list to see if the Giants can find a diamond in the rough.
Click any player name on these lists to go to their Baseball Reference page.
Pitchers on the 40-man roster
Keep in mind, on Opening Day the active roster will have 26 players on it and the maximum amount of pitchers a team is allowed to carry is 13. These are new roster limits for the 2020 season. In September, teams can expand to 28 and 14, but we don’t need to cover that right now.
Johnny Cueto is projected to be the Opening Day starter. I don’t think anyone has come out and officially stated that, but come on, it’s Johnny Freaking Cueto. He is just back from Tommy John surgery, and that is always a wild card. Cueto was determined to get on the field by the end of the 2019 season and he did just that, making his debut on September 10th, only 13 short months after his surgery. Cueto showed enough flashes of his old self that I think we can feel comfortable with him as the ace of this rotation.
The rest of the rotation is a bit of a mystery after Cueto. Jeff Samardzija is back and will undoubtedly start as well, and throw in newcomer Drew Smyly as a starting candidate. He has spent the majority of his 7-year career in the rotation. Giants fans may remember Smyly as an arm out of the bullpen for the Tigers back in 2012.
Tyler Beede, Andrew Suarez, and Logan Webb are in the roation mix. So is Kevin Gausman, a right-hander who was signed to a 1-year deal. He started 16 games for the Braves last year and can also be used out of the bullpen.
That will be a theme throughout the new Giants era. Versatility. Farhan Zaidi likes players who can play multiple positions and pitchers who are flexible enough to bounce between the rotation and pen. He also likes pitchers with options to bounce from the big club to the minor leagues, and vice versa. Most of the guys listed on this page will be in the minor leagues at some point this season.
Dany Jimenez is one guy who won’t be heading to the minors. The 26-year old Dominican right-handed reliever was a Rule 5 selection of the Giants this winter. He was selected from the Toronto farm system and if a Rule 5 pick doesn’t stay with the MLB roster throughout the season, he’s offered back to his original organization before he can be demoted with his current club. Jimenez struck out 93 batters in 53 innings last year between single and double A and has a fastball that can reach 98.
Left-hander Tyler Anderson is one more name to keep an eye on. The former Colorado Rockie signed a 1-year $1.775 million dollar contract in December. Anderson has a 5.93 ERA, given up 14 runs in 22 innings, and also surrended 5 home runs at Oracle Park. He’s also never won a game there so I’m sure everything will be fine.
The rest of the names on this list are a grab bag of guys fighting for bullpen slots. Tony Watson looks to be the only pitcher who has a predetermined role. And that’s just my assumption. As previously stated, we really don’t know how Kapler will deploy his pen. He does not have a good history with the Phillies in this department. This is definitely a part of the new manager that makes Giants fans leery. But honestly, it’s hard to match Bruce Bochy when it comes to bullpen usage, and that’s the standard we’ve been watching for 13 seasons.
Most of the pitchers on this list are signed to minor league deals with an invite to Spring Training. The chances of making an Opening Day roster from this position are slim, but not unheard of. At least 3 guys from the 2019 non-roster list made an appearance with the big club.
There’s some notable names here. Tyson Ross is an old friend having come up with the A’s and he also pitched for the Padres in the NL West for a few years. Ross is a Bay Area local who attended Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland and University of California, Berkeley. Ross started 7 games for the Tigers last year, posting a 1-5 record with a 6.11 ERA. His brother Joe just won a ring as a pitcher with the Nationals.
Jerry Blevins is another recognizable name on this list. Blevins is a left-handed veteran reliever. His over 10-year career has been primarily in Oakland and New York with the Mets, but you can also sprinkle in a couple other stops along the way. Blevins has a devastating curve ball that just may be enough to get him on this roster if he can consistently control the pitch.
The other name that sticks out to me is Sean Hjelle. The right-hander was a second round draft choice by the Giants in 2018. He’s a starter who pitched pretty well for Augusta and San Jose but struggled a little bit after being promoted to double-A Richmond late last season. He’s the second ranked pitching prospect for the Giants according to MLB.com, behind Logan Webb.
You may have noticed that I did not preview the catchers here as well. I’ll include them with the infielders on Wednesday. I’ve written enough and you’ve read enough. After infielders and catchers tomorrow, we’ll be covering the outfielders on Thursday, and finish with the coaching staff and front office on Friday.
Giants baseball is back, baby! Pretty soon they’ll be a part of our everyday lives.
We’re so excited to have the Giants back, episode 189 is up for your listening pleasure. We put the 49ers season to bed and move on to the Giants and start to look ahead to all these stories heading in to camp.