SAN FRANCISCO - The Giants entered the offseason with decent starting pitching depth, and yet, both significant moves they have made have been for … starting pitchers.
They'll report to Scottsdale Stadium next month with six solid options for the rotation, and guys like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach - both of whom have had some big league success - in the wings. And that's exactly how Farhan Zaidi wants it.
Zaidi has been open about his desire to take it easy on Dereck Rodriguez, Andrew Suarez, Stratton and the rest of his younger pitchers early in the season, but he also wants to ease in a veteran. Jeff Samardzija's throwing program is going according to plan, but Zaidi is preparing for complications, just in case.
"All indications are that he's going to be ready for the start of the season, ready for camp, ready to throw in games," Zaidi said. "As of now, he's very much on schedule. I think for us, having the injury and the season he did last year, he's not a guy you can afford to write in for 32, 34 starts. If that happens, great. But as we look at our roster and our pitching, we recognize that there's still some concern and some risk. You kind of hope for the best, but still plan from a contingent standpoint that if something doesn't go as hoped, you have some alternatives in place."
The Giants should be in a pretty good place, and they may not be done yet. Zaidi still could add another depth piece, but even if he doesn't, he'll enter the spring feeling set in the rotation. Madison Bumgarner trade talks have cooled. Derek Holland was a strong mid-rotation option last year and Drew Pomeranz isn't far removed from being the same. Zaidi would like to slow-play Rodriguez and Suarez, but neither pitcher is the type to accept that, and both will push hard for rotation spots out of camp. Stratton has had some dominant stretches in the past and Zaidi's Dodgers had success with similar hot-cold types. It's possible Shaun Anderson, a non-roster invitee, is an option by the time the weather warms up. And beyond all that, Johnny Cueto is planning to be back from Tommy John surgery by September 1.
Of course, Cueto could return to a much different type of rotation. Bumgarner may be the most impactful player available at the deadline, and it's hard not to look at the Holland and Pomeranz contracts and not view both players as potentially strong trade chips in July.
Zaidi will deal with that a few months from now. For now, he's happy with his rotation depth and eager to take advantage of it.
"It's not just about the Opening Day roster, but how you get through a 162 game season," Zaidi said. "That's where the starting depth has a chance to be valuable, and all these guys are going to have a chance to make plenty of starts for us."