Why Giants would be at big disadvantage in NL West with new DH rule

Why Giants would be at big disadvantage in NL West with new DH rule

The Giants didn't plan to have a designated hitter in 2020, but now that the rule change is all but assured for a shortened season, they're actually in pretty decent shape

The obvious solution is shifting Hunter Pence and Alex Dickerson into that spot on a regular basis, as they were set to split time anyway in an effort to keep both veteran outfielders healthy. The addition of the DH also would open at-bats for Pablo Sandoval, who should be 100 percent healthy if the sport resumes in July, clearing a bit of the infield logjam created by the additions of Yolmer Sanchez and Wilmer Flores. 

Buster Posey would surely soak up plenty of DH at-bats, and it's possible the rule change could lead to Joey Bart making the "Opening Day" roster. With his power, Bart could even be an option to DH at times if the Giants don't feel the glove is ready. 

A DH would help the Giants score more runs in 2020, but will it actually help them win more games? They would be at a disadvantage against AL teams that were planning for this all along, and it's possible that adding one more hitter would actually widen the gap in the NL West. 

FanGraphs took a look at rosters recently and determined the Giants would be right near the bottom of the NL in terms of gains from a universal DH. Here's how we think they would stack up against the rest of the division:

Los Angeles Dodgers

The good news is a shortened season would give some hope to the rest of the teams in the division, who would have no chance of keeping up with the Dodgers' depth over 162 games. The bad news is that a universal DH gives some of that edge right back. 

The Dodgers could move Joc Pederson, who hit 36 homers last year, to DH and still have an outfield of Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger and A.J. Pollock. Or could give most of the DH at-bats to Max Muncy and still have an infield of Bellinger, Gavin Lux, Corey Seager and Justin Turner. They could give Turner, 35, additional rest and replace him with Chris Taylor or Kiké Hernandez. They could use the DH to keep Betts or Bellinger in the lineup for both ends of a doubleheader. 

The Dodgers being the Dodgers, they will do all of these things. Any way you slice it, this helps them. They have the most talented lineup in the league, and they might benefit more than anyone from having an additional hitter. 

Colorado Rockies

They're pretty similar to the Giants, in that a DH could best be used getting older players off their feet. First baseman Daniel Murphy certainly could use a bat-only role, and 33-year-old outfielder Charlie Blackmon would benefit, along with 34-year-old Ian Desmond. 

The Rockies could fill the ensuing hole at first by moving Ryan McMahon, who hit 24 homers last year, around the infield, allowing extra time for Brendan Rodgers, a 23-year-old infielder who is one of the top 30 prospects in the game. 

This is where you might see the biggest impact in the standings. The Giants finished ahead of the Rockies last year and expected to do so again, but the DH certainly helps the Rockies more than most NL clubs. 

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San Diego Padres

They've spent years trying to figure out what to do with Wil Myers, and this could solve that problem. The Padres would also be able to hide Jurickson Profar's glove at times, and there are certainly nights when they would be better off using Francisco Mejia at DH and letting the other catcher, Austin Hedges, handle the young staff. 

The Padres have a weird glut of outfielders who are talented but not stars, and the DH would probably benefit that group quite a bit, particularly Josh Naylor, a good young hitter who has struggled defensively. Newcomer Tommy Pham was the designated hitter 21 times last season in Tampa Bay. 

Overall, the Padres definitely would have an edge over the Giants in a game with a DH. 

Arizona Diamondbacks

The answer here is simple:

OK, OK, the Diamondbacks probably won't do that. Bumgarner hit just .127 last year with two homers, but you can bet he'll convince Torey Lovullo to give him at least one day as the DH. Perhaps even against the team that let him go to a division rival ...

The Diamondbacks have a strong all-around roster, one that should compete for a postseason spot under any rules, but they won't hugely benefit from a DH. Jake Lamb seems to be the best solution, and perhaps being a DH would allow him to stay healthy and get back to his 2017 (30 homers, .844 OPS) ways.

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The Diamondbacks might actually be hurt by this more than any NL West team. They were hoping to chase down the Dodgers, and giving the Dodgers a DH while also taking away the advantage Bumgarner had over other pitchers certainly favors Los Angeles.

Why Giants' Gabe Kapler pulled Kevin Gausman after 80 pitches vs. Dodgers

Why Giants' Gabe Kapler pulled Kevin Gausman after 80 pitches vs. Dodgers

The Giants coaching staff spent weeks preparing for the opening series against the Dodgers, and while some of the pitching decisions looked strange at the time, there's no doubt that overall they worked. The Giants came out with a split, a great result for any team that visits Dodger Stadium these days. 

The second time through called for a bit more spontaneity, coming in the middle of a tough three-city trip. For the second straight night, a decision made when a starting pitcher was nearing the end of his leash backfired. This time it cost the Giants the game and a chance at a series win. 

On Saturday night, Johnny Cueto was allowed to extend to 93 pitches, but a three-run homer on his last one nearly proved costly. A day later, Kevin Gausman was pulled after just 80 pitches, and he watched from the dugout as Tyler Rogers gave up a three-run homer, blowing the lead in a game the Giants would go on to lose 6-2. 

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Gausman had an outstanding fastball going on an 82-degree afternoon, averaging 97 mph for the first time in four years and hitting 99 mph several times. His final pitch was his hardest of the day, a 99.3 mph heater that Cody Bellinger redirected into center field for a one-out single. Kapler came out and held up his right hand as he got to the mound. 

"I think it was just a hot day, seventh time up, third time through the toughest part of the order," Kapler said of the decision. "He had done a tremendous job. He had carried his stuff into that inning, he had carried his location into that inning, and it just felt like the right time to keep him healthy and strong and safe all the way through the season based on getting into the seventh for the first time. 

"At the same time we had a reliever ready who we felt confident could get us a groundball with a runner on first base and get us out of that inning."

Rogers gave up a single to Justin Turner and then struck out Max Muncy. He was on the verge of getting out of the inning, but he grooved a 3-2 curveball to A.J. Pollock and it sailed into the empty bleachers in left. 

Rogers had pitched two strong innings the night before, and the Giants feel he's someone who can bounce back. But the Dodgers were seeing Rogers for the fifth time in 17 days. Pollock had faced him a night earlier and flown out on a curveball. 

[RELATED: What you might've missed as Giants blow lead vs. Dodgers]

Kapler disagreed with the notion that the novelty had worn off when it came to the submariner. 

"I think it's not just novelty with Rog, it's the ability to throw strikes with two pitches that are unusual. It's an unusual look. He can attack the strike zone with those two pitches and they're actually just flat-out good pitches," Kapler said. "Pollock made a nice adjustment, got to two strikes and two outs, and he was able to elevate the ball."

The blast cost Gausman a win on a day when he became the first Giants starter to record a quality start this season. Gausman gave up just three hits in 6 1/3 innings and struck out six. He made a sour face as he came off the field and threw his gum, and said later that he would have liked an opportunity to finish the seventh. 

"I definitely felt like I had more in the tank. My limit is not 80 pitches, but Kap's job is to make those decisions. That's his job description," Gausman said. "I'm not the one that's calling down to the bullpen and getting guys loose, that type of thing. Obviously I thought I pitched well enough to warrant getting a couple more guys out, but we're trying to win the series and it's a hot day. Maybe those were factors in his decision."

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 6-2 loss vs. Dodgers

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 6-2 loss vs. Dodgers


Kevin Gausman had the best start of the year by a Giant, and one of the most dominant we've seen from any starter early on this season. But it wasn't enough for the Giants, who dropped a heartbreaker in the late innings and lost a series at Dodger Stadium.

Gausman was sitting in the upper 90s all afternoon but was pulled after just 80 pitches. He watched as Tyler Rogers gave up a three-run homer to A.J. Pollock and the Los Angeles Dodgers got another blast later from Mookie Betts, walking away with a 6-2 win. 

The Giants fell to 2-5 on this road trip with three games coming up against the Astros. Here are three things to know from one that truly hurt ... 

Made of quality

The bar to clear for a quality start -- six innings, three earned runs -- is not a high one, but the Giants had not had one through 16 games, which is pretty remarkable. Gausman sailed past that mark in his fourth appearance as a Giant, but took a brutal no-decision. The right-hander left with a 2-0 lead and a runner on first in the seventh. A few minutes later, the Giants trailed. 

What was so notable about Gausman is how he did it. He was throwing gas, hitting 99 mph three times -- including 99.3 on his final pitch -- and averaging 97 with his four-seamer. That was his best average fastball since 2016. The final pitch was his hardest since June 9, 2018.

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Maybe pump the brakes a little?

Rogers had a huge spring and was just as sharp in the second camp, but manager Gabe Kapler might be playing that card a bit too often. To be fair, Kapler doesn't have a lot of great bullpen options, but Rogers' appearance Sunday was his fifth against the Dodgers in 17 days, and even pitching two innings in Saturday's win.

At some point, that submarine delivery isn't as much of a surprise, and Pollock swung the score with a three-run shot on a hanging curveball. One pitch earlier, Pollock had walked a few steps toward first, thinking he had walked on an inside pitch. 

[RELATED: MadBum struggles again while Gausman shines for Giants]

Not slowing down

Mike Yastrzemski provided the offense, driving a two-run single into center off former Vanderbilt teammate Walker Buehler. Yastrzemski is eighth in the NL with 12 RBI, and one of the players he trails is a teammate, Donovan Solano (14).

Solano extended his hitting streak with a two-out single in the eighth inning. This was not a barrel for Donnie Barrels. He hit a slow roller to third with a launch angle of negative 46 degrees, exit velocity of 55 mph and hit probability of 17 percent, but it died on the grass and Solano easily beat Justin Turner's throw to first. 

The 14-game hitting streak is the longest by a Giant since Angel Pagan went 19 games in 2016. 

Those were the only two hits of the day for the Giants.