SAN FRANCISCO — When you lose 89 games a year after losing 98, there are some serious flaws on your roster. Giants officials acknowledged that late in the season, vowing to shake it up and bring in some fresh faces. Before they dive into the offseason, we’re going to look back, recapping the best and worst for the 2018 Giants and figuring out where players fit into future plans.
This series starts with a look at the edges of the 40-man roster. The Giants currently have 24 pitchers on their 40-man, including some who were seen during the year but didn’t get the call in September, and some who weren’t seen at all.
Here’s a breakdown of the minor league pitchers on the roster: Tyler Beede, Julian Fernandez, Tyler Herb, Chase Johnson, Derek Law and Josh Osich.
What went right
Beede was the only member of this group to debut in the big leagues in 2018, and while that didn’t go well, that’s always a milestone. It wasn't a positive that he was moved to the bullpen after returning to the minors, but Giants evaluators do believe he made some strides there, and his fastball ticked up.
Johnson made it back from Tommy John surgery and posted a 3.86 ERA in 18 Double-A starts. Law was said to be throwing better near the end of his season, but an ankle injury kept him from a call-up. In an earlier stint, however, he picked up a base hit, so he technically can say he led the 2018 Giants in batting average.
What went wrong
The combined pitching numbers from this group were ugly. Law had a 4.20 ERA in Triple-A and gave up 13 runs in 13 1/3 big league innings. Osich won a job with a big spring but was sent down after allowing 17 hits with a 9.00 ERA in nine April innings. He had a 4.96 ERA for the River Cats, allowing opponents to hit .299. Herb was hit at a .295 rate and had a 5.35 ERA and 1.60 WHIP for the River Cats.
Beede lasted just 7 2/3 innings in two big league starts and gave up seven runs, and he had a 7.05 ERA in Triple-A. The Giants plan to move him back to starting, but it certainly was a step back that he was shifted in the bullpen in the first place.
Fernandez, the Rule 5 pick from the Rockies, technically could fit in both the What went right and What went wrong categories. He had an up-and-down spring but then needed Tommy John surgery. That’s a bummer, but he did get a full season of service time on the 60-day DL and a big league salary, which is a huge boost for an A-ball pitcher. The Giants took an unexpected tax hit, but ultimately they held onto a 22-year-old who hits triple digits. Who knows … perhaps one day that’ll prove to have been a break.
Osich, who has one minor league option remaining, is arbitration-eligible for the first time. The rest of these guys are not. Johnson has one option remaining. Law, once thought to be the future closer at AT&T Park, is out of options, which will play a big part in what the Giants do with him this offseason.
The Giants have 45 players on their 40-man roster, and while four free agents are coming off, they still will need to make cuts as they add players to protect them from the Rule 5 draft and sign free agents. At least a couple of these guys figure to be on the chopping block.
Osich already is 30 and appears to have no future with an organization that has lefties Will Smith, Tony Watson, Ty Blach and Steven Okert in the big league bullpen. Law has fallen behind Reyes Moronta, Ray Black and others. There is absolutely zero starting depth at the Triple-A level, so Beede, Herb and Johnson still could be in the mix there, although a new regime might feel differently about some of the players drafted during the Bobby Evans era. Fernandez should be safe, assuming his rehab went well.