The San Francisco Giants are still in the playoff chase, even after Monday’s mind-bending loss.
Really, could the gem that Jonathan Sanchez pitched have been wasted any more painfully that it was against Colorado in the series opener?
Could an apparently inspiring win have been lost any more quickly?
The Colorado lead-off hitter reached in the ninth before a misplayed fly ball led to a freaky bounce on an accurate throw to third. The Giants 1-0 edge became a 2-1 Rockies win in an instant.
Moving forward, the Giants do have reason to give great thought to the pending September call-ups. They are in position where they should ponder dropping a player from the 40-man roster to make room for a relief pitcher, or maybe a starter, who can help in the final month.
Players already on the 40-man roster who, most obviously, figure to be recalled are relief pitcher Waldis Joaquin and, potentially, starter Henry Sosa. The pen will get a lift when Dan Runzler returns from the disabled list. Chris Ray and Guillermo Mota will also come off the DL, but history indicates that won’t necessarily make the bullpen better.
The Giants have no business adding veteran Dontrelle Willis to the 40-man roster. First, adding him means dropping a player from the 40-man for a completely fallen star. Second, left-hander Matt Yourkin and right-hander Steve Edlefsen are far more deserving of a spot on the 40-man and in the big leagues in September.
Willis has only pitched in three games in Fresno. In three innings, the struggling veteran has walked four, given up two hits and allowed three runs. The southpaw Yourkin, who could start or relieve in San Francisco, is 7-8 with 4.36 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 130 innings—mostly as a starter. Edlefsen is 7-1 with a 2.04 ERA and six saves coming out of Fresno’s bullpen.
Edlefsen is a career Giants farmhand who merits the big league bid more than Yourkin, at least based on numbers. Yourkin, however, is a journeyman who would give the club a fourth lefty in the pen. The Giants would get more use out of Yorkin as a situational lefty or, perhaps, as a spot starter to give the beleaguered rotation a break heading into September.
The players most likely to be dropped from the 40-man roster to make room for Yourkin, Edlefsen, or Willis include left-hand reliever Alex Hinshaw, right-hand starter Kevin Puecetas and journeyman utilityman Eugenio Velez.
The Giants can make a case for either of those pitchers having long-term value. Velez has the potential for short-term help as a pinch-runner or pinch-hitter. But, really, he has too often squandered opportunities to keep a big league job. How much help, really, will Velez provide in this playoff chase?
The Giants would be wise to trim Velez from the 40-man roster and add Yourkin, simply because the starting pitchers need a break and there isn’t a starting pitcher in the pen right now. And, there’s always a need for another lefty reliever.
Emmanuel Burris can be recalled to provide late-inning defense up the middle and pinch-run. Ryan Rohlinger could help at shortstop where Juan Uribe has played every single day since Edgar Renteria was hurt.
There are other hitters for the Giants to consider.
First baseman Brett Pill is on the 40-man roster and has a solid season in Fresno. Brandon Belt is, clearly, the first baseman of the Giants’ future. Belt is not on the 40-man, so bringing him up after hitting .217 in six games at Triple-A doesn’t make sense. There’s use for a right-handed bat like Pill.
Pablo Sandoval has finally gotten hot at the plate, but has become a defensive liability at third base. Lefty-swinging third baseman Conor Gillaspie hit .290 with a .350 on-base percentage for Double-A Richmond. The former first-round draft pick has six homers and 63 RBIs. He has 16 errors for the Flying Squirrels, but he still merits a spot in San Francisco in September.
Gillespie could pave the way to move Sandoval to first base some down the stretch—and fill in if Sandoval is needed to catch in an emergency. It would be nice to see and show where’s the young third baseman stands as a prospect.
The Giants could make recalls on the cheap. Save the meal money and hotel costs to house the extra players for 30 days. With a playoff spot there for the taking and the knowledge that we never know when the least likely player becomes the most inexplicable hero, the Giants should call all hands on deck.
Ted Sillanpaa is a Northern California sports writer and columnist. Reach Ted at firstname.lastname@example.org