Giants

Giants roster breakdown: Johnny Cueto, veterans to fill out rotation

Giants roster breakdown: Johnny Cueto, veterans to fill out rotation

In recent Giants seasons, it has become relatively commonplace for a team's PR staff to put out game notes that list a bunch of TBDs as the pitching probables. Managers are becoming more and more hesitant to give away even seemingly innocuous information, and the surge of openers has made it even more difficult to predict what a series might look like. 

This season, you can expect even more of this, but for a whole new reason. With just three weeks to prepare for a 60-game season, teams do not expect to have true five-man rotations. Giants manager Gabe Kapler made it clear earlier this week that his starting staff will carry a much different type of workload, but there still will be a starting staff in some form.

Here in Part II of our Summer Camp preview, we take a look at the guys who likely will start the most games for the Giants over 60 games. 

Johnny Cueto

The last thing Kapler did before spring training shut down was name Cueto his Opening Day starter, and there's no reason to think that'll change. Kapler and his coaches have been regularly checking in with their pitchers, but all you need to keep tabs on Cueto is an Instagram account. He has been posting regular videos of his bullpen sessions and recently uploaded a fun series of matchups with former Giant Eduardo Nu√Īez:

Cueto returned from Tommy John for four up-and-down starts last September, and on Opening Day, it will have been 24 months since his last big league start of more than five innings. But the Giants have always thought Cueto would age well, and if he can find his healthy 2016 form (18-5, 2.79 ERA) they'll have a much better shot of staying in contention. 

Jeff Samardzija

Few, if any, Giants have more at stake this season than Samardzija, who is coming off an underrated 2019. He threw 181 1/3 innings last year with a 3.52 ERA, and this is the final season of a five-year deal he signed on the eve of the Winter Meetings in 2015. 

Samardzija turned 35 in January and is the type of mid-level player you would expect to have a tough time this offseason given the grudge owners will hold, but he has 10-12 starts now to state his case. 

Kevin Gausman

It seems like it's been three years since the right-hander signed a one-year, $9 million deal. Back in December, the Gausman agreement looked like it could set both sides up for the future. Gausman, a former first-round pick, had a great chance to rebuild his value before hitting free agency again. For the Giants, Gausman and Drew Smyly represented opportunities to potentially repeat the Drew Pomeranz-for-Mauricio Dubon deal they made last July.

What does this all look like after the hiatus? The 29-year-old should have a dozen starts to build his value, but the Giants likely will not be in a position to be all that active at a deadline that comes after just five weeks of games. 

Gausman had some success as a reliever for the Reds last season and he was throwing well this spring. Perhaps the Giants will have him air it out a bit more than he normally would in the early innings, making him more of a power starter than he would have been over 162 games. 

Drew Smyly

The Giants gave Smyly a $4 million deal in January and immediately threw him into the rotation, and like Gausman, he was throwing well in Scottsdale. Smyly should be right at home in a strange season, as he has started and relieved in his career. 

Smyly hasn't been a full-time member of a starting rotation since 2016 and has dealt with some serious injuries, but the left-hander is still just 31 and he has a chance to set himself up nicely for the offseason. Teams are expected to be stingy, but left-handed starters are always in high demand.

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Logan Webb and Tyler Anderson

The fifth starter spot was supposed to go to Tyler Beede, but his elbow started barking in Scottsdale and he had Tommy John surgery in March. Beede won't miss nearly as many games as first anticipated, but he'll be out all of this year and could miss the beginning of next season. 

It seems unlikely that Kapler even names a full-time fifth starter at this point, but there are two guys who stand above the rest -- the Giants have plenty of former starters headed for their bullpen -- as likely candidates to take the ball.

Webb might have given Beede a true run for this role in spring training had it not been for an innings limit. Because of a suspension, he only threw 103 innings last year. The Giants were going to slow-play Webb early in the year, but now the harness can be taken off. Webb is just 23 and showed flashes of his potential last season. Over 60 games, perhaps he'll grab a long-term spot in the rotation. 

[RELATED: How Giants highest-paid player in 2020 isn't with team]

Anderson had knee surgery last year that was supposed to keep him out until about June. Well, it's July, and he'll be a full go in camp and ready for Opening Day. The lefty had a 4.69 ERA in four seasons with the Rockies and the Giants were excited to get him to sea level. 

It's unclear how deep he'll be able to go in starts given the long layoff, but Anderson and Webb might form a pretty effective duo if the Giants piggyback their fifth starter. Webb is a hard-throwing righty and Anderson relies heavily on a cutter and changeup from the left side. They would give completely different looks to an opposing lineup. 

Giants' Logan Webb continues hot start, becomes first starter to win

Giants' Logan Webb continues hot start, becomes first starter to win

Somewhere along the line, people stopped talking about Logan Webb.

The Giants' summer camp was dominated by glimpses of Joey Bart, Marco Luciano and other top prospects. Their first couple of weeks have mostly been about Mike Yastrzemski and Donovan Solano, with the rest of the attention being soaked up by sloppy defense and interesting pitching decisions. 

Webb has gone under the radar through two camps and two weeks of the season. But he seems like he's Gabe Kapler's most consistent starter through three starts, and Webb's doing this at just 23 years of age. 

Webb went into Coors Field for the first time and allowed one earned run over five-plus innings, leading the Giants to a 4-3 win that snapped a three-game skid. In three starts, Webb has allowed three earned runs. He has pitched after a loss all three times, and the Giants are 3-0. 

"I think last year when we had Buster (Posey) and Vogter (Stephen Vogt) that's one thing they preached, is pitch a winner," Webb said. "Even if that doesn't go the way you wanted. When you pitch a winner, that's the main thing. That's how I go into every start."

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Webb's start to his second year has been solid but has one notable flaw.

He has thrown just 12 2/3 innings so far this season, which partly has to do with some long innings he has had and partly has to do with a coaching staff that is being hyper-cautious early on. It has been rare this season that a Giants starter even goes deep enough to qualify for a win, and Webb became the first to actually get one.

According to the Giants, this is the first time since at least 1901 that they had no wins from starters over the first dozen games. 

"I still think he felt like he has more in the tank, and you know what, we feel like he has more in the tank," Kapler said. "He's done a really good job of maintaining his stuff. The movement on his changeup has been great, the fastball has had life, and now we just have to tighten up his command even a little bit more, and when he does that he's really capable of going deep into games like some of the better pitchers in the league."

Webb threw just 68 pitches Wednesday, 50 of which were strikes. But as he took the mound in the sixth with a 4-2 lead, he knew he had to keep it clean to keep going. When Tony Wolters opened the inning by lining a fastball into left, Webb was visibly frustrated. He was pulled right away. 

Webb said he was similarly mad that he couldn't last longer in his first two outings, when he was scheduled to go five-plus each time. He worked on adjustments in the bullpen a couple days ago, continuing the theme of his offseason. 

Webb reshaped some of his pitches with the new coaching staff and added a cutter, which he is mixing in more and more. Over time it should be a good weapon for him, particularly against lefties, keeping them off his mid-90s fastball. On this night, he did just enough to help lead the Giants to a needed win, with Brandon Belt providing the punch with a three-run homer and Trevor Gott closing it down in the ninth. 

[RELATED: Despite slump, Panda's swings are impressing Kapler]

A pitcher can't ask for much more than a win at Coors -- "you hear all the horror stories about here," Webb said -- and this one continued an underrated start, one that has a clear next goal. Webb is getting results, now he wants to get them over more innings. 

"I don't feel cautious for Logan's health with respect to pushing him into the nineties (with his pitch count). I think he's been pretty built up," Kapler said. "But one of the messages that we want to stay consistent in sending to our pitchers is that putting up zeroes for as long as you possibly can is really what your job is. Limiting damage is really what your job is. Limiting damage for as long as you have the ball is really how you help the Giants win."

Thus far, nobody on the staff has done that better than the youngest starter. 

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 4-3 win vs. Rockies

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 4-3 win vs. Rockies

BOX SCORE

For much of their recent homestand at Oracle Park, it looked like the Giants were playing games at Coors Field. The scores have been a bit more normal at the actual Coors Field, and that favored the Giants on Wednesday.

Logan Webb had a solid start, the bullpen did a nice job of holding the Colorado Rockies down and Brandon Belt provided all the necessary offense with a blast to right. It all added up to a 4-3 win over the Rockies that snapped a three-game skid.

Here are three things you need to know about the Giants' third road win this season ...

Promising Rookie

He's not going that deep into games yet, but quietly, Webb has been the staff's most effective starter. Webb went five innings, allowing two runs -- just one earned -- on four hits. He struck out four.

Webb has a 2.13 ERA through three starts, although he has pitched just 12 2/3 innings. The Giants are going to be understandably cautious with the 23-year-old, who should be a part of the rotation for years to come, but they have to like what they're seeing. Webb hit 96 mph with his fastball and had the Rockies off balance with a changeup, slider and cutter.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

#belted

Belt turned a two-run deficit into a one-run lead with one swing of the bat off Jon Gray, a pitcher he has always seen well. The three-run homer to right was Belt's first of the year and his second off Gray. Belt is 10-for-24 in his career off the hard-throwing right-hander.

Belt later added a long double, giving him 232 for his career. That ties him with Rich Aurilia for ninth on the franchise list. Next up is teammate Pablo Sandoval, who has 234 career doubles.

[RELATED: Despite slump, Panda's recent swings are impressing Kapler]

Another One

The first run scored off Webb was a frustrating one. Donovan Solano booted a grounder to short while playing in the shift, putting the first batter of the night on base. A wild pitch sent David Dahl to second and he scored on a single.

The error was the 17th of the year for the Giants, who lead the majors and are one of just two NL teams in double-digits. This is the first time since 2012 that they've made 16 or more errors this early in the season. Solano has been a little iffy defensively, but he has a 10-game hitting streak, so he's making up for it on the other end.