Giants Notes: Dereck Rodriguez dominates, keeps special company in NL

Giants Notes: Dereck Rodriguez dominates, keeps special company in NL

SAN FRANCISCO — With a six-week stretch of dominance, Dereck Rodriguez has thrown his name right near the top of the Rookie of the Year race. He’s also keeping some special company in the National League. 

Rodriguez threw seven shutout innings before Will Smith blew it in the ninth inning of a 3-1 loss to the Astros, lowering his ERA to 2.34. There are only three NL starters who have thrown at least 70 innings and have an ERA below 2.35.

The list is Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Dereck Rodriguez. The first two are duking it out for the Cy Young Award and will likely get MVP votes. 

“We keep talking about what a great job he’s done,” manager Bruce Bochy said of his rookie right-hander, “And he just keeps getting better.”

Rodriguez broke in with Andrew Suarez, and while the right-hander continues to roll, Suarez has hit a rough patch. After Suarez gave up eight runs in Phoenix over the weekend, Bochy pumped the brakes on any panic, saying a skid is normal for a young starter. That’s true, of course. But Rodriguez has yet to find real trouble. He has given up four runs in four second-half starts and hasn’t allowed more than two runs since June 19. What has allowed him to keep rolling?

“He just has such great focus,” Bochy said. “He has four pitches with command. He’s got savvy. He knows what he’s going and what he wants to do. He’s got a good feel for pitching along with good stuff. He works the edges well and goes up and down. I just like how smart he is on the mound.”

Rodriguez showed that Monday. His fastball was down a couple ticks and he realized it early, so he spread the wealth. Rodriguez threw 21 four-seamers, 21 two-seamers, 18 changeups, 17 curveballs and 17 cutters. 

“I was trying to move the ball around more,” he said. 

The Astros had no answer for him. So far, nobody really has. 

--- Bochy made a change in the eighth, going with Reyes Moronta while Tony Watson and Sam Dyson warmed up. He said he’s going to use everyone in the eighth at this point. Ray Black was an option, too. Dyson later warmed up when Will Smith ran into trouble. 

--- My original focus tonight was going to be the defense up the middle. There was a sequence in the fifth that showed how the Giants are as good as anyone in that respect right now. Brandon Crawford made a slick scoop to rob Martin Maldonado of a hit. Jake Marisnick then hit a long fly ball to center that would have been trouble for most recent Giants center fielders. Steven Duggar chased it down easily. 

The play had a catch probability of just 37 percent, making it the fourth-toughest catch of the year for Giants outfielders. Duggar has been here 21 games and he has two of the top four and four of the top 10, according to catch probability. 

--- Roberto Osuna, who just served a 75-game suspension for domestic abuse, was the winning pitcher in his Astros debut. Osuna heard a few scattered boos as he took the mound, but this was nowhere near the level of noise heard when Josh Hader was here on the last homestand. 

Osuna’s transgression was obviously much, much worse, but it didn’t become anywhere near as public as Hader’s tweets. It’s an odd phenomenon. Hader went viral and got crushed. Osuna seems to have slipped a bit under the radar. Perhaps that will change as he gets around the league a bit more. 

--- If you missed it earlier, the Power Rankings have updates on a bunch of former Giants, including Andrew Susac, Phil Bickford, Adalberto Mejia, George Kontos and Matt Moore. 

Shaun Anderson's cheering section includes Mets sensation, NL West rival


Shaun Anderson's cheering section includes Mets sensation, NL West rival

SAN FRANCISCO -- Social media has added a cool twist to big league debuts. When a top prospect comes up for the first time, the congratulatory messages from former college and minor league teammates are no longer fully private. If you took a spin around Twitter or Instagram last Wednesday, you saw a vast collection of Giants minor leaguers and former Florida Gators shouting out Shaun Anderson, who had a solid debut against the Toronto Blue Jays.

There was one surprising shoutout, though. San Diego Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer posted on Instagram that he was watching Anderson's debut. It turns out the 29-year-old Hosmer and 24-year-old Anderson are workout partners in the offseason at BioCore Sports Performance in Davie, Florida. 

"I guess he was watching, which was pretty cool," Anderson said on this week's Giants Insider Podcast. "He texted me after and we talked about if for a little bit."

Anderson had a lot of well-known (in the baseball world) players watching. He was part of a loaded roster at Florida that had eight players drafted in the first 10 rounds of the 2016 MLB Draft. Anderson went to the Red Sox in the third round. Top pitching prospects A.J. Puk (A's) and Dane Dunning (White Sox) were part of that class, along with budding Mets star Pete Alonso.

Anderson said he still keeps in touch with most of his Florida crew and is looking forward to the rest making it to the big leagues. Alonso is the most successful thus far, and if Anderson sticks in the rotation through the next road trip, he could face his former teammate in New York early next month. 

"I faced him a lot throughout college and in intrasquads and then last year (in the minors). I kind of have a good gameplan on him," Anderson said, smiling. "I can't tell anybody yet. He's been swinging the bat (well), so I'm kind of looking forward to that matchup."

For more on Anderson, including his thoughts on his debut, a breakdown of his fastball variations, and the knowledge he's trying to soak up from Madison Bumgarner, you can stream the Giants Insider Podcast here or download it on iTunes here. 

Andrew Suarez has quality start in return, will stay in Giants rotation

Andrew Suarez has quality start in return, will stay in Giants rotation

SAN FRANCISCO -- Andrew Suarez's return to the big leagues was very nearly overshadowed on a national scale. 

Mike Soroka, the 21-year-old right-hander on the other side, had a perfect game going before Brandon Crawford launched a solo shot in sixth just as it was getting interesting. Suarez, on the other hand, gave up a solo homer to Ronald Acuña Jr. on his first pitch back in the majors.

But the 26-year-old settled in, showing the kind of stuff that made him so dependable for long stretches of his rookie year. Against Soroka, it wasn't nearly enough. The Giants lost 4-1 in their first meeting of the year with the Braves. But Suarez did show enough that manager Bruce Bochy said he'll be in the rotation for now. 

"After that (homer) he really pitched great," Bochy said. "He did what we were hoping, kept us in the game and gave us a chance. He was a strike away from a great start."

Suarez was working quickly, sometimes in and out of trouble, through five. After the solo shot in the first, he didn't allow another run until the sixth, when he walked Nick Markakis with two outs and then hung a curve that rookie Austin Riley blasted to center. Suarez was trying to bury it in the dirt but left it up. 

"I wish I got that one back," he said. "I just left it down the middle."

Suarez was charged with three earned runs in six innings, walking four and striking out five. In recent weeks the standard hasn't been that high for Giants starters, though, and Suarez gave the staff just the 11th quality start in 46 games. Madison Bumgarner has six of the other 10, and no starter other than Bumgarner had thrown a quality start since April 24. 

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Suarez said he did not view this as an audition, but if it was, he passed. At the moment, he is in the rotation with fellow young starter Shaun Anderson and veterans Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija and Drew Pomeranz. That could leave the Giants with a fascinating decision to make before Tuesday's game.

They do not intend to carry 14 pitchers as they did Monday, and they may have to dump a veteran to add another infielder before Anderson takes the mound Tuesday night.