The San Francisco Giants have built up a formidable starting rotation over the last two seasons. One could make the argument that it is top three in the majors, if not the best one completely. Tim Lincecum has won the Cy Young award in back to back seasons, Matt Cain is coming off a 14 win year in which his ERA dropped to 2.89, Barry Zito made a strong recovery late last season in which he upped his strikeout totals and lowered his walks and ERA from the previous two seasons.
Meanwhile, Jonathon Sanchez has a ton of potential, with a fastball in the mid-90′s and a deadly slider, and he even found himself throwing a no-hitter last season. But with all that, who will nail down that last spot in the rotation? Do the Giants go with another kid, or do they give it to a veteran?
If this year’s spring training stats were to be the deciding factor, then the job would clearly go to Kevin Pucetas, who is awaiting his major league debut. He is currently 1-0 and has not allowed a run in the seven innings he’s tossed so far. At 26 years old, and a 42-13 minor league record, he may be mature to handle the jump to the big leagues.
Top pitching prospect Madison Bumgarner is also being looked at for the job. At only 21 years old, he was given a brief look last season when he was called up in September. He threw one start, which he went 5.1 innings allowing 5 hits and 2 runs, but not factoring in the decision. He would go on to pitch 10 innings, striking out 10 and having an ERA of 1.80. He is probably the best of the available pitchers, but the Giants should, and will most likely hold him a couple of months to see how he does in the minors. If the number five pitcher is struggling and Bumgarner is doing well, he could get called up.
The final option for the spot goes to veteran Todd Wellemeyer, who was signed to a contract by the Giants this winter. The former relief pitcher turned starter has a major league record of 29-29, with an ERA 4.74 in 195 games pitched. He has also fared well this spring, having a 1-0 record and an ERA of 2.00. Because he is a veteran, he would be my choice to get the job. As I said earlier, if he falters, he can be moved to long relief where he had success in Kansas City and St. Louis.
It will be a tough decision, but the problem the Giants have is something that teams dream about; too many good, young pitchers, and not enough spots to put them.