The Giants’ 2011 Rotation

Of all the 2011 rotations we've examined to date, no team's starting five appears more locked in than that of the San Francisco Giants. Their current rotation has been both healthy and effective, and all five starters are under team control for at least two more years.

Last year's ace, Tim Lincecum, actually has the worst ERA (3.62) among Giants' starters, and his slight dip in velocity and decline in production is a little worrisome. Still, he's striking out more than a batter per inning, and should be fine if he's healthy. Lincecum will make $13MM next season and then will be eligible for arbitration twice more, as a Super Two. He'll be expensive by the time he hits free agency, but San Francisco is one team that can afford the cost.

Behind him, Matt Cain is locked up through 2012 on an affordable contract, and Barry Zito, while not quite as affordable, has at least been effective this year (3.56 ERA). He'll make $18.5MM in 2011 and is under contract through 2013. At the fourth spot in the rotation, Jonathan Sanchez has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining. He's enjoying a successful 2010 (3.47 ERA, 9.4 K/9) and will be in line for a solid raise next year, but since he's only earning $2.1MM this season, his price tag won't be exorbitant.

While the aforementioned four have been rotation mainstays for some time, the team's fifth starter, Madison Bumgarner is a newcomer. Having just turned 21 this month, the left-hander has already showed that he deserves a starting spot in 2011. In 11 starts this year, he's recorded a 3.20 ERA and displayed outstanding control (2.3 BB/9). Barring a setback or injury, Bumgarner figures to round out the club's 2011 rotation.

Just because the team's rotation appears set now, however, doesn't mean there won't be changes. While Sanchez has been the subject of a few trade rumors, it's unlikely any of San Francisco's starting pitchers will be dealt. But injuries are impossible to predict, and as we've seen in their dogged pursuit of outfield bats this summer, the Giants are a club that values depth.

The team's top pitching prospect, 2009 first-rounder Zach Wheeler, is still in A ball, meaning he's probably at least a year or two away yet. The Giants' higher levels of the minors aren't exactly flush with young major-league-ready arms, but players like Clayton Tanner and Henry Sosa could be ready to contribute at the big-league level next year, if they're needed. Neither prospect, of course, is in the same league as Bumgarner: the 22-year-old Tanner has seen his strikeout rate decline significantly at Double-A Richmond, and may need another year of minor-league seasoning, while Sosa, 25, has pitched primarily out of the bullpen for the first time this year at Triple-A Fresno.

With few viable insurance starters in the Giants' minor league system, the team could look to the free agent market this winter. They likely won't be targeting any elite pitchers or even mid-rotation starters, but one or two journeymen on minor league contracts could be useful if the club is bit by the injury bug in 2011. Until then, the Giants and their fans should enjoy a group of arms that may not come cheap, but has fewer question marks than virtually every rotation in the league.

27 Responses to The Giants’ 2011 Rotation Leave a Reply

  1. Joe Martinez was dealt to the Pirates before the trade deadline.

  2. DanHaren 5 years ago

    wasnt joe martinez traded to pittsburg at the deadline ?

  3. Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

    Clayton Tanner isn’t the typical San Francisco Giants pitcher.

    I think their current rotation should be their 2011 rotation.

    And Joe Martinez is on the Pirates.

  4. Luke Adams 5 years ago

    Thanks for the reminder on Martinez, guys. Forgot he was involved in that deal.

    • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

      Everyone makes mistakes Luke. You’re still the man.

  5. gigantes2425 5 years ago

    rotation should be pretty solid next year and the rest of this year.

  6. nostocksjustbonds 5 years ago

    Tanner hasn’t shown that he’ll be much more than a long-man or LOOGY. He just doesn’t throw hard enough. Other possibilities are still in A+ San Jose. Eric Surkamp is currently injured (hip), but was having a very nice season. Also, Jorge Bucardo just got promoted to San Jose and is a sleeper prospect. It’s likely, however, that he’d start in San Jose in 2011 and probably wouldn’t be major league ready until mid-2012 at the soonest. Also, they still have Michael Main, but he got lit up in his first go at AA and probably needs some mechanical retooling before he’s ready to make an impact. If that happened, he could provide some potential starting depth at some point in 2011.

    • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

      what about Kevin pucetas?

      • He was considered as a potential 5th starter this past spring, but he’s been awful in AAA this year. 6.06 ERA, 1.747 WHIP, 6.2 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9

      • nostocksjustbonds 5 years ago

        He really hasn’t shown much in his 2nd season in the PCL where he’s been lit up on on a regular basis. He’s probably been worse than he was in 2009.

        I forgot to mention, but lefty Eric Hacker has been the “ace” in Fresno since Mad Bum left. He gets a lot more groundballs and a few more Ks and would be a better option than Pucetas.

        I really wouldn’t expect either player to make an impact in 2011 (or even make the team) and given the lack of starting depth the team has in the minors, it’s no wonder that Sabes is reluctant to move Sanchez for a bat.

        • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

          I mean we can just assume that barring a trade or injury, the current rotation will be the 2011 opening day rotation.

      • darumpshaka 5 years ago

        He was traded… he was the “player to be named later” in the Jose Guillen trade… I believe… anyway I know he was traded and I know he was the player to be named later… look it up.

      • darumpshaka 5 years ago

        Pucetas was the “player to be named later” in the Jose Guillen trade I believe…if it wasnt the Jose Guillen trade, it was for something else, but I know he was the “player to be named later” cuz I was a bit suprised they gave up on this guy

    • nostocksjustbonds 5 years ago

      I’d also add that while Sosa could be a possibility, he has probably lost stuff due to so many injuries and simply hasn’t proven durable enough to be a major league starter and more likely projects to be a reliever if he makes it to the show.

  7. GiantsWSchamps2010 5 years ago

    Barry Zito has been more then “effective” to me he has been the Giants best and most consistent starter. I like what I have seen from Bumgarner, he is a fast worker and throws strikes. Cain is having his usual good year with no run support and Sanchez has been inconsistent all year and doesn’t pitch deep enough into the game. Lincecum has been out of whack since the end of April, I can’t see the Giants being very successful without him figuring it out.

  8. deere5800 5 years ago

    I can see Lincecum flaming out sooner rather than later. He has a pretty violent delivery that probably can’t be supporter by his frame. Hopefully, though, for Giants fans he can do the Pedro Martinez and continue to be effective by becoming a more complete pitcher

    • NightManDefenderOfTheSun 5 years ago

      Timmy’s mechanics will not lead to a flame-out. The delivery appears violent and would mess with most people, except this was fine-tuned by Tim and his dad as per Verducci’s article (link to The fact that his delivery is unique and even perhaps incongruous with his size doesn’t make him a risk; it’s what makes him great.

      • deere5800 5 years ago

        Yeah, I read that article when it came out and was filled with great optimism that I too could throw it harder. The problem I have is that there are so many parts of his delivery that require precise timing and positioning. And while he may be exceptional in his ability to reproduce his delivery properly, the fact is that over the course of a 180-200 inning season he’s not going to reproduce that delivery perfectly every time. And when he messes his timing up he’s going to do more damage than the average pitcher, both because he’s small and he’s putting his arm in a more dangerous position.
        I hope that I’m wrong and Verducci is right, but I fear at some point he’s going to run into severe arm troubles

  9. David X 5 years ago

    Clearly, the pen is where the Giants need to add pitchers. Perhaps a Wellemeyer type (but better) who can be a long man and plug into the rotation if one of the main five goes down. 2-3 more relievers, a lefty and a couple of righties, at the back end to get to Wilson would be helpful. Then again, I’m really not that crazy about Wilson, who next to Marmol is the most exciting closer in baseball.

    • EdinsonPickle 5 years ago

      Their starting five is fine, but some depth and versatility would be great for the Giants. Like you said someone who can be a long man, but can easily be slotted into the rotation in case of injury. As for the rest of the ‘pen, I think they’ll be fine if they can just add a lefty. Romo and Casilla are doing well, and I expect them to continue doing well next year. I think Affeldt will also bounce back and have a nice year in 2011 also, so with those three and Wilson plus another offseason addition they should be pretty set.

      • BLB25 5 years ago

        I’m not sure they really NEED an offseason acquisition for middle relief. Romo, Affeldt and Wilson have the back end spots locked down. As you said Casilla has really been very good and I don’t see any reason to believe he won’t be a memeber of the 2011 pen. When healthy Runzler has been pretty effective and I would expect for him and Javier Lopez to compete for that 2nd lefty/LOOGY spot. If you assume they’ll carry a 5 man position player bench that leaves 2 bullpen spots open. Ramirez, Ray and Mota have all been at least adequate options so I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see at least one of them return too. I’d like to see a more traditional long relief guy signed who could pick up spot starts in the case of injury, but unlike the situation with their minor league starters there are actually several minor league relief arms who could likely contribute in 2011 if necessary. I’d be surprised if the team spent much money on any kind of pitching this offseason. I think bringing back guys like Huff, Uribe and maybe Burrell or addressing SS, 1B, and at least one corner OF spot in other ways will definitely be the priority.

        • EdinsonPickle 5 years ago

          Fair enough, I see what you’re saying, and you’re probably right that with the exception for a long man they can get by on what they have. In either case offense is a bigger concern, and I agree that they should solve those problems first.

  10. No, Lincecum can’t take away his delivery, it’s much more than what makes him great, it makes him unique. He is one of the most exciting pitchers to watch, and it would be a shame to see his violent delivery be taken away. I think he just needs to work on his velocity on his fastball which is the backbone of how he pitches to hitters. He’s had success before, why not now? Maybe he was more comfortable with Bengie?

    • But you can’t just stick w/ something that’s not working to be unique. That’s silly. His velo has been the last 2 years. Something’s up.

  11. No mention of Eric Hacker? Pshhh.

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