How Giants pitchers and prospects could be affected by using opener

How Giants pitchers and prospects could be affected by using opener

SAN FRANCISCO -- No matter how Nick Vincent fares as the Giants' opener Tuesday, you can bet this isn't just a one-game experiment. A front office that opts for something so untraditional isn't going to base any future decisions on one or two innings.

So the Giants have officially joined the opener era, and they'll do it again, perhaps adding their own twist. They have internally discussed wide-ranging concepts for getting 27 outs, and at the Winter Meetings in December, Farhan Zaidi explained why the idea of using a reliever in the first inning is so appealing. 

"Once you get away from 'this guy is going to throw the first six innings of the game,' it opens up a lot of stuff," Zaidi said at the time. "Even with an opener, is an opener a one-inning guy, a two-inning guy, a three-inning guy? Again, I think the more versatile your pitching staff is and the more kind of multi-inning guys you have, the more kinds of ways you can get through (games)."

Even though they haven't tried it yet, the Giants actually do have a staff with plenty of good options. Here's a look at how the opener could open opportunities for some current Giants:

Derek Holland: Moved to the bullpen over the weekend, he could end up being the "bulk innings" guy if the Giants want a lefty soaking up most of the outs. Perhaps he's even the choice to follow Vincent, a righty, on Tuesday. 

Holland's strikeout rate (10.9) is the highest of his career and he's holding lefties to a .437 OPS. Imagine him coming into a game when the opponent has lefties stacked up for a couple of innings? Holland also did well out of the bullpen last year, so this won't be new to him. 

Trevor Gott: Vincent was the choice for Tuesday's first inning, but Gott could also be a good option down the line. With a fastball that sits 95-96 mph, he would be an uncomfortable way for a lineup stacked with righties to start a game. 

Tyler Beede: There are some in the organization who still feel Beede's best chance at having an impact in the big leagues is as a reliever, and with a 98 mph fastball, good curve and plus changeup, he certainly has a repertoire that would fit in short stints, too. With a lesser load to worry about the fastball would play up, and Beede got bullpen experience last year in Triple-A, so the warming-up aspect wouldn't be new to him. 

Travis Bergen: The rookie doesn't have huge splits so far, but if the Giants are to turn to a lefty in the first inning, Bergen would be the likely choice since Tony Watson and Will Smith are late-innings fixtures. 

Reyes Moronta: Alright, this is a bit extreme, but if you really want to make an opponent uncomfortable, imagine Moronta coming out in the first throwing 98 mph fastballs? Against an opponent with righties at the top -- say, the Trevor Story/Nolan Arenado Rockies -- Moronta could be a good bet to get through a couple of shutout innings and give Bochy just seven innings to figure out. One of the main points of the opener, after all, is to make sure your best pitchers get in while the game is important. 

Ty Blach: He's still on the 40-man roster, and the Giants considered using him to open for Jeff Samardzija last month. Blach ended up getting rocked by the Dodgers, but the Giants may turn to him again as they start getting creative. Blach has the ability to stretch out to four or five innings if he's having one of those nights when a lineup can't figure him out and he's sprinting back and forth from the dugout to mound. 

Madison Bumgarner: Just to be clear, the Giants would never use an opener for their best pitcher. This is something you only do once a rotation, for the most part, so this will never be a concern:

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Shaun Anderson: A closer at the University of Florida, Anderson would have no issues figuring out the bullpen part, and the Giants may find that this is a good way to ease their top pitching prospect into the big leagues. The Giants could start someone like Bergen and then bring Anderson in to try and get through a lineup twice with a completely different look. In fact, the Giants announced that Anderson will make his MLB debut on Wednesday -- but it appears he'll be used as the traditional starter.

Pablo Sandoval: Ok, this is *mostly* a joke. But Bruce Bochy loves rewarding one of his all-time favorite players, and if the season keeps going this way, it would be one hell of a story to let Sandoval take the mound in a September game and then shift over to an infield spot for the final eight innings. Also, keep in mind that Bochy wants to let Sandoval play all nine positions at some point. Why not start that day on the mound? 

Giants prospect Jaylin Davis has six homers in last three MILB games


Giants prospect Jaylin Davis has six homers in last three MILB games

Giants rookie Mike Yastrzemski wasn't the only player in the organization to hit three home runs on Friday night.

In Reno, recently acquired outfielder Jaylin Davis crushed three homers for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats.

The three-homer game was just part of Davis' recent hot streak. One night earlier, he homered in the series opener against the Aces.

Fast forward to Saturday night, when Davis kept the party going by hitting his seventh homer as a River Cat in the top of the second inning.

If you thought Davis was done, you'd be wrong. In the top of the sixth, he went yard again.

If you're keeping track, that's six homers in three games for Davis, who now has eight taters in 14 games since coming to the Giants organization at the July 31 MLB trade deadline. Between Double-A Pensacola, Triple-A Rochester and Sacramento, Davis now has 33 homers this season.

You read that correctly. 33.

The leader on the big league club is Kevin Pillar with 17 homers this season.

The Giants acquired Davis in a trade-deadline deal with the Twins. Reliever Sam Dyson went to Minnesota, while Davis and pitchers Prelander Berroa and Kai-Wei Teng came back to San Francisco.

On July 31, a source familiar with the Twins organization provided a scouting report on Davis, and the conclusion was pretty accurate:

"Big power, especially to the opposite-field gap. Hits the ball really hard, has been on fire since going up to Triple-A. Swing-and-miss risk. Average right fielder and can handle center in a pinch. Solid throwing arm."

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The 25-year-old is making it hard for the Giants to keep him down in Sacramento. It might be time for president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi to find room for him on the big league roster.

'Tough mentality' early helps Giants' Logan Webb earn win in MLB debut

'Tough mentality' early helps Giants' Logan Webb earn win in MLB debut

PHOENIX -- Logan Webb left 30 tickets at Chase Field for family members and friends who wanted to watch his big league debut. Some came on flights paid for by the Giants, but others made the long drive from Rocklin. 

Webb wasn't sure exactly how many of the 30 tickets got used up, although he knew it was nearly all of them, if not all. He didn't look into the seats to confirm, preferring to keep his focus on the field during the biggest moment of his baseball career.

"I could hear them," Webb added, smiling.

The ones who drove 11 hours certainly got their money's worth. Webb was sharp and showed toughness in his first big league start, pitching five solid innings in a game the Giants would go on to win 11-6

The 22-year-old was charged with one earned run (another came across on an error), struck out seven and walked one. Webb scattered five hits while becoming the first Giants starter since Ryan Sadowski in 2009 to win his debut.

"He stayed poised out there and gave us five solid innings," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He looked good, didn't he? He had good stuff, good command, a nice slider and changeup. He did a good job in this ballpark in his debut."

Webb had plenty of nerves for his lone Triple-A start on Monday, then had to fly to Phoenix and watch the Giants and Diamondbacks combine for 12 homers a night before he took the ball. He said there were even more nerves as he took the mound Saturday, but some dissipated with his first strike, others with his first out. The Diamondbacks scored two in the first but Webb didn't allow another run. 

"He's got a real tough mentality," Bochy said. "That's what you like about him. You can tell, he's out there and all business."

Webb is known for being a bulldog on the mound, but it wasn't those early runs that brought out the most emotion. He yelled into his glove after ending the sixth with a nasty slider that Adam Jones waved at. The culprit was a walk issued one batter earlier.

"There's nothing I hate more than walks," he said later, smiling again and shaking his head. 

A commitment to that will keep him in the big leagues, although for now it's unclear when Webb will make his next start. The Giants had previously said that Tyler Beede and Dereck Rodriguez would start next week, and they have two off days in five days. Webb likely couldn't start again until Sunday in Oakland, and the 2019 Giants have not kept a player around for a week when he's not able to be used. 

But Saturday's performance certainly opened eyes. Bochy said the staff would discuss the roster situation. At the very least, they need another position player here for the series finale as they go for the sweep. The lineup -- paced by Brandon Belt's six RBI and Kevin Pillar's five hits -- had 18 hits, but there were only three players on the bench.

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Webb may have to wait a bit longer to stick in the rotation. But the first night was one he can be proud of. 

"For a kid, coming up here against a tough lineup like that, he won't forget tonight," Bochy said.