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The Giants have until noon Thursday to set their roster. While most of the attention is paid to the guys who make the team, the most fascinating part of all this might be what president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and general manager Scott Harris do to open roster spots. 

Both catchers will be non-roster invitees, and Pablo Sandoval, Yolmer Sanchez and Darin Ruf are locks for the infield. None are currently on the 40-man roster. Rico Garcia, Carlos Navas, Andrew Triggs and Trevor Oaks are in contention to win a bullpen spot, and all would have to be added as well. In the coming weeks, non-roster invitees like Trevor Cahill, Billy Hamilton, Caleb Baragar, Joey Rickard and, of course, Joey Bart, could all need a spot. 

There's a lot of shifting to be done, and a few familiar names could be cut loose by tomorrow's deadline. What's left will be 30 players at Dodger Stadium, plus possibly three members of the taxi squad -- manager Gabe Kapler said one will be a catcher -- and the majority of them could be pitchers.

Traditionally you would expect a team to announce five starters, a closer, and six or seven relievers. The Giants thus far have said that Johnny Cueto will start on Opening Day, and after that ...

Uhh ... 

Well ... 

Let's let Kapler explain:

"One of the things that we've done as a coaching staff is have a lot of conversations about how to bucket our pitchers," Kapler said. 


It's a new phrase, but probably one you need to know as you follow the Giants early on this season. Kapler said he doesn't like labels, but the staff did split the staff up into three categories. For this year, at least, the days of "starter or reliever" are somewhat gone. 

"The first category is bulk inning pitchers," Kapler continued. "Somebody who can take on three, four, five, maybe even six innings here, sooner rather than later."

These would be your traditional starters, but here's where it gets tricky. Kevin Gausman, Drew Smyly and Tyler Anderson all pitched Monday night, leaving some confusion about how they're lined up for the weekend. The Giants still haven't even said when Jeff Samardzija will start first. 

It's a decent bet that Cueto and Samardzija will be regular starters, but it wouldn't be a shock to see Smyly start Friday with Gausman coming out of the bullpen in the fourth inning, or vice versa. Those four, along with Anderson and Logan Webb, seem to be the "bulk inning guys" for now. 

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"The second category is a guy who can go up and down, maybe one-plus, maybe a little bit more than that," Kapler said. 

The Giants could have a bullpen, if we're still calling it that, filled with former starters. Shaun Anderson. Andrew Suarez. Dereck Rodriguez. Conner Menez. Triggs, Oaks, Cahill and Garcia. Navas has been a true one-plus reliever in the upper minors. The majority of the pitching staff figures to be made up out of this second category, 

Finally, Kapler said, you have the "sprinters." 

"(They) are better suited to not go out for a second inning when they come in to clean up an inning," Kapler said. "Those would be kind of like the short-burst relievers. Those are the three buckets that we're putting pitchers into."

Tony Watson fits here, along with Wandy Peralta, Jarlin Garcia, Sam Selman, Sam Coonrod and Trevor Gott. Except Coonrod is also a former starter and Gott recorded more than three outs a dozen times last year. So maybe they're also category two? 

And what do we call Tyler Rogers, who likely will close at times but could be an opener and definitely will go multiple innings, but probably not more than two? Perhaps he's bucket-proof. 

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Kapler has said he prefers to keep his strategy under wraps, and he didn't give any hints away over two exhibition games. The Giants had nine pitchers go an inning Monday and then nine more did the same Tuesday. 


Most of those men will be standing on the line tomorrow night in Dodger Stadium, that much we know. But it'll take at least a week or two to figure out which bucket to put them all in.