SAN FRANCISCO — Alex Wood joined Ross Stripling on the Lower Back Tightness Injured List on Sunday morning, and the rotation’s current state didn’t get any better once the game started.
Anthony DeSclafani had his shortest start of the year, allowing six runs in the third inning of an 8-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, who took two of three in the weekend series. For the first six weeks of the year, the Giants had been top-heavy in their rotation, leaning heavily on three right-handers, but DeSclafani has allowed 17 earned runs over 25 1/3 innings in his last five starts.
DeSclafani said he might have gotten slider-happy after his sizzling start to the year, and hitters have figured it out. That’s an easy adjustment to make, but there’s more uncertainty behind him in the rotation.
Without Wood and Stripling, and with Sean Manaea currently in the bullpen, the Giants have three starters at the moment. Their scheduled starters for three games at Coors Field are TBA, TBA and TBA, although they could move Logan Webb and Alex Cobb up to pitch the final two games on normal rest. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see John Brebbia reprise the opener role during the series.
“Right now,” manager Gabe Kapler said, “We are sort of piecing it together.”
That’s not at all what was expected in the offseason. The Giants went into the year with six options after signing Stripling and Manaea over the winter, with Jakob Junis in reserve and Kyle Harrison leading a group of young arms in camp.
They don’t want to rush Harrison and Junis has pitched well out of the pen, but struggles from the newcomers zapped the rotation’s depth. Wood expects to be back when his 15 days are up and Stripling isn’t far behind, but there may be more bullpen games than expected over the next couple of weeks.
One solution would be to slide Manaea — who has pitched well in a new role — back to the rotation and hope he can start getting deep into games. Kapler said they’re discussing all options, and with off days this Monday and again next week, the Giants have some wiggle room. They called up Tristan Beck on Sunday to try and add depth to whichever path they choose.
Kapler isn’t worried quite yet, and with Webb and Cobb pitching like All-Stars, the rotation has managed to stay afloat. He said he likes what he has seen from Manaea lately and still hopes Stripling can live up to expectations.
“I think there’s still a good possibility we end up with a deep rotation,” he said.
It just might take a few more weeks to get there.
Other Giants notes:
— Joc Pederson and Thairo Estrada are both likely to return to the active roster on Tuesday in Denver. The Giants haven’t had a full house very often this season, and two moves will be made. Optioning Bryce Johnson back to Triple-A is a likely first move.
The Giants have played Brett Wisely pretty regularly, but it’s hard to see who else could go down to clear a spot for Estrada, especially with extra pitching needed at Coors. Wisely didn’t help his cause with a rough defensive game on Sunday.
Kapler said he also hopes that Michael Conforto is ready to start on Tuesday. The outfielder hasn’t been in the lineup since bruising his heel earlier in the week.
— Mike Yastrzemski was out of the lineup Sunday because of some side tightness, but the Giants think he’ll be fine after a couple days off. You can bet he wants to be ready for Tuesday’s game. Yastrzemski solidified his hold on a big league job with a huge series at Coors in 2019 and has a 1.120 OPS in 25 career games there.
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