Why Kapler hasn't named Giants' 2021 Opening Day starter

Kevin Gausman

The Giants have known which pitcher they're facing on Opening Day for more than a month now. The Seattle Mariners announced on Feb. 21 that lefty Marco Gonzales will toe the rubber when the Giants and Mariners square off on April 1 at T-Mobile Park. 

It's a much different case when it comes to Gabe Kapler's decision. The Giants manager still hasn't announced his Opening Day starter, despite the first game being just nine days away. To Kapler, though, there's no reason to rush his choice. 

"It’s a huge honor and that’s why we take it so seriously and don’t announce too soon and we don’t jump the gun," Kapler said Monday on KNBR's "Murph & Mac" show. "I will say this, I understand that other clubs out there announce their Opening Day starter sooner. But the one thing you don’t want to do is unwind that."

Kapler likely is choosing between Johnny Cueto and Kevin Gausman. The Giants won't be handing the ball to a random recipient like they did with Ty Blach in 2018. Cueto was given the honor last season, but it very well could go to Gausman this year. 

Both pitchers haven't exactly dominated this spring. Cueto has a 9.82 ERA over 7 1/3 innings and Gausman has a 5.63 ERA in eight innings. But spring training stats from the two veterans won't mean much to Kapler or any other Giants coach. 

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Kapler said he believes Gausman will be ready to throw around 90 pitches and up to six innings in his first start and he isn't worried about Cueto, who threw around 80 pitches in a five-inning simulated game on Monday. 

"We can be patient for a few more days and get to just the right point where we feel pretty confident, if not all the way there, that things are lined up perfectly and then we announce," Kapler said. "We’re not quite ready to do that."

The decision should come any day now and shouldn't be a worry to Giants fans. Naming an Opening Day starter is more symbolic than anything else, no matter how seriously Kapler takes it. He clearly has two options he trusts, and just might take as much time as he wants before making up his mind.

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