CHICAGO -- With the exception of a rough first inning last Saturday, the Giants have fared remarkably well in their bullpen games. That's not keeping them from shifting their rotation around this weekend, though.
With an off day Thursday, manager Gabe Kapler skipped the "fifth starter" spot and moved Kevin Gausman up to pitch Saturday. He's doing the same with Logan Webb, who has been one of baseball's best pitchers in the second half.
The move gives the Giants a better chance at a second straight sweep, but it also could pay dividends at the end of the season. There are a lot of things the Giants could do with their pitching over the next three weeks, which include three off days, but Gausman and Webb currently are lined up to pitch two of the three games of the final series of the year, when the Giants will potentially be trying to wrap up an NL West title. Webb looks set for Game 162 if it matters. That's not front of mind right now, though.
"I think this is much more about the step right in front of us," Kapler said Saturday. "It's not to say that we don't see the rest of the staircase and that's not part of our strategy (but) most importantly is winning the next pitch, the next inning, the next game, and believing that that momentum matters."
It's all flowing in the right direction right now, and Webb is the perfect choice to close out the road trip. Over his last 15 starts, he has a 1.65 ERA. The Giants have won 14 of them, including Webb's appearance Tuesday at Coors Field. Kapler waited a few days after that one to officially move Webb up a day.
"I think, importantly, he bounced back well from his start in Colorado. I think it's always worth waiting a couple of days and just seeing how somebody's body recovers," he said. "What I'll say with Logan is he is very much in the mode of, 'Give me the ball.' He wants it right now and I think his body is responding well and he has been able to stay in his delivery. I think as soon as he can get back on the mound he wants to be on the mound, and we want to support that."
The Giants could soon get some help as they try to stay fresh heading into October. There's no timetable for Johnny Cueto (elbow) to return, but Alex Wood has turned a corner in his recovery from COVID-19 and will throw a bullpen session Monday at Oracle Park. Kapler said Wood will be reevaluated after that session, which could set him up to soon give the rotation a fourth actual starter.