Who Is the Best Option for the San Francisco Giants' Fifth Starter?

Max Gross@@maxgross55Correspondent IApril 19, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 16:  Todd Wellemeyer of the San Francisco Giants reacts after giving up a two run homerun to Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning at Dodger Stadium on April 16, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  The players are all wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

I'm not quite sure what Giants GM Brian Sabean was thinking he would get when he signed pitcher Todd Wellemeyer in the off-season. If he was expecting a quality starter, then he made a big mistake.

The only time Wellemeyer was successful as a starter was in  St. Louis under the tutelage of pitching coach Dave Duncan and he barely managed a 4.31 ERA and a 23-21 record. Being away from the best pitching coach in the business has not been good for Wellemeyer in the past (never posting an ERA below 5.00 away from St. Louis) and is not working so "well" in San Fransisco.

Wellemeyer has posted a 9.58 ERA in two starts so far and has allowed four HR. Unimpressive numbers like this are not a good way to keep yourself in a rotation that has two Cy Young winners, a young pitcher with one no-hitter and a 2009 All-Star. Also with hot prospects like Madison Bumgarner waiting in the minors, is Wellemeyer helping the team more than Bumgarner would?

Although Bumgarner only has one career major league start he has shown a whole lot of good stuff in the minors, having a 27-6 record and a 1.96 ERA.

The big lefty from Hickory, NC has more potential than anyone else in the Giants minor league system. Starting this year in AA Connecticut proves that Bumgarner still needs a bit of refinement before he can be MLB ready.

If Wellemeyer is just awful in his next 2-3 starts and Bumgarner isn't ready for a call-up what will the Giants do? They could take a risk in spot starting releivers with starting experience like Sergio Romo and Brandon Medders. Or, they could test a veteran free agent like Jarrod Washburn or John Smoltz.

Assuming Wellemeyer is going to be replaced what is the best solution to keep the Giants in contention for a World series? Starting relievers with some starting experience in the minors would not help the bullpen in any way and may not help the rotation.

Veterans free agents like John Smoltz, who benefited from pitching in the pitcher-friendly NL last season or Jarrod Washburn, who was very affective in a big ballpark in Seattle, would fill the empty fifth starting spot perfectly until Bumgarner is ready for the MLB in July or August. Also, these veteran pitchers would be great in late inning relief appearances in the playoffs.