Noah Lowry or Jonathan Sanchez? San Francisco Giants Fifth Starter Debate

Danny PenzaSenior Writer IJanuary 26, 2009

When Giants Manager Bruce Bochy announced a preliminary starting rotation this past week, neither Noah Lowry nor Jonathan Sanchez were a part of it.

One of the most intriguing battles that will start three weeks from now is the one for the Giants' fifth starter spot—between the same two lefties.

So, who's the pick?

It’s not as easy as it may seem to some of the so-called “experts.”

Sanchez is a complete wild card. He can either be completely dominant or done by the third inning. He is as talented as any on the Giants staff, but his inconsistent ways have prevented him from being the dominant pitcher so many people think he can be.

While Lowry did miss the entire season, Sanchez also missed about a month due to some arm trouble, as well. And once he came back from the disabled list in September, his second half spiral continued downward. He won only once down the stretch and saw his ERA shoot up more-than one run over his final 12 starts.

If the Giants do want to get more value on the trade market, Sanchez would be the better choice. With all his struggles of the second half last season, he still managed to strike about one batter-per-inning-pitched last season.

Despite the inconsistencies, teams still call for Sanchez. The often thrown around “upside” is what they count on to still be there while keeping the walk totals down.

And that’s the reason why he’s so attractive to other teams.

He may have a 5.18 career ERA and be more erratic than Lowry, but he’s only 26 and his dominating June (5-1, 3.10 ERA) showed that his relatively short time as a Major League starter is something he can overcome.

However, one would have to think that if the Giants wanted to trade Sanchez, they would’ve done it by now, instead of waiting two weeks before pitchers and catchers report.

But let us not forget that other lefty in this dilemma.

Lowry is the more consistent pitcher, despite coming off the arm injury. At 28, he's the more proven commodity.

You know what you're going to get from him and even though he walked as many as he struck out in 2007, he still went 14-8 with a 3.92 ERA, even more incredible when his 1.55 WHIP was easily the highest of his career.

He doesn't have the Tim Lincecum power fastball, but he still challenges hitters without fear. Add that to a changeup that, when clicking, is one of the best around, and having him on a staff filled with power arms is quite a good complement.

If the Giants do want to contend this season, having a pitcher of Lowry's class and caliber would be a great asset at the end of the rotation. Sanchez may put butts in the seats because he racks up strikeouts, but isn't the point of each game to be in the win column?

Just because some scouts may say that they would move Lowry, it's hard to think that another club would give up much to get him without seeing if he is fully recovered and able to pitch the same way he did in his first four season with the Giants.

One would have to say that Lowry, based on his resume, is a more logical choice.

However, the choice that Bochy and Brian Sabean have coming up will not be an easy one.

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