MLB

Projecting the SF Giants opening day roster 2.0

I sort of promised this would be a weekly feature this month, and I almost came through! Just four days late. Since the last time I projected the Opening Day roster, several promising young players were sent to minor league camp.

This changes my projections slightly.

Starting Rotation

  • Madison Bumgarner
  • Johnny Cueto
  • Jeff Samardzija
  • Jake Peavy
  • Chris Heston

No changes here, although the rotation is far from bulletproof. Bumgarner missed one start and could miss another due to two “minor” injuries that aren’t arm-related, and Cueto took a baseball off his head last night. He should be fine, but the Giants know all too well that concussion symptoms can show up in the days after a blow to the head. Cactus League numbers mean next to nothing, especially for starting pitchers, but Samardzija’s numbers over nine innings look similar to what he did in 2015 with the White Sox — five earned runs, 13 hits allowed. Peavy has been far worse (10 ER and 19 H in 8.2 IP). Chris Heston and Chris Stratton have been the team’s best two starters so far, and we’ll probably see Heston take Matt Cain’s first turn in the rotation at minimum.

Bullpen

  • Santiago Casilla
  • Sergio Romo
  • Javier Lopez
  • Hunter Strickland
  • George Kontos
  • Josh Osich
  • Joan Gregorio
  • Cory Gearrin

Gearrin isn’t a prototypical long reliever, but the Giants might not care in his case. He has a 1.69 ERA so far over 5.1 innings, but the Giants surely care more about his big league experience (84 games over four seasons) and his mechanics. Gearrin, who had Tommy John surgery in April of 2014, is a sidearm righty with fantastic career numbers against right-handed hitters (.205/.314/.271). Plus, he’s out of options.

Catcher

  • Buster Posey
  • Andrew Susac

No change here, although Trevor Brown is still visible in Susac’s rear view.

Infielders

  • Brandon Belt
  • Joe Panik
  • Matt Duffy
  • Brandon Crawford
  • Kelby Tomlinson
  • Conor Gillaspie
  • Grant Green

Tomlinson is playing shortstop pretty well (according to occasional tweets from beat writers, anyway) and he’s getting time at third as well. Bye-bye, Ehire Adrianza. It was a coin-toss of sorts, but Grant Green seems to have the momentum right now. He and Gillaspie are both former first round picks, but Green can play both middle infield spots as well as left field. If the Giants are comfortable with Tomlinson backing up Duffy, Green may have the advantage over Gillaspie.

Outfielders

  • Angel Pagan
  • Denard Span
  • Hunter Pence
  • Gregor Blanco
  • Gorkys Hernandez

Hernandez has several things going for him so far. He’s hitting .345 with four stolen bases. He can play all three outfield positions. The four incumbent outfielders are all over 30 and have dealt with some sort of injury or soreness this spring. On the other hand, Mac Williamson is leading the team in runs, homers, doubles, hits and RBI. But utilizing Hernandez as the team’s fifth outfielder (if they choose to keep that many) is fine, while the Giants probably see Williamson as the team’s starting left fielder in 2017 (or sooner, if injuries strike). Similar to Clayton Blackburn, it seems like the Giants would rather let Williamson hone his skills as a full-time starter with the Sacramento Rivercats instead of using either prospect sparingly in a reserve role.

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