We’re basing these assessments on the assumption the Giants will carry 11 pitchers to open the season, given that the team has off-days every Thursday in April (after opening day).
The first four rotation spots are locked:
RH Tim Lincecum
LH Barry Zito
RH Matt Cain
LH Jonathan Sanchez
No. 5 spot: Todd Wellemeyer, Kevin Pucetas and Madison Bumgarner are contenders. According to those who cover the Giants, it looks like Wellemeyer has the inside track to this spot. He’ll pitch again Saturday vs. the Reds in an effort to lock down that spot. Pucetas also has pitched well. But Wellemeyer has a clause in his contract that states the Giants need to tell Wellemeyer, by a certain date, how he will be used this season. If Wellemeyer doesn’t like what he hears, he has the option to leave the team and try to find a job elsewhere. Given that it’s March 19 and he’s still with the Giants, it looks good that he’ll claim the No. 5 spot.
If Bumgarner doesn’t win the No. 5 spot, he’ll open in Fresno.
Bullpen (6 spots): Three spots are locked by pitchers who have guaranteed major league contracts: RH Brian Wilson, LH Jeremy Affeldt, RH Brandon Medders.
That leaves three spots left and with how well RH Sergio Romo pitched late in game last season, it would figure he would snare one of those spots.
That leaves two spots. The contenders are: LH Alex Hinshaw, RH Waldis Joaquin, LH Joe Martinez, RH Kevin Pucetas, LH Dan Runzler, RH Henry Sosa and RH Guillermo Mota.
With Martinez set to open the season on the DL, that Giants will need to consider if they want another lefty other Affeldt in the bullpen. That will give one spot to Hinshaw or Runzler. Our money is on Runzler.
That leaves one spot left for a righty: Mota has pitched very well as a non-roster invitee. But so has Pucetas. The Giants could send Pucetas back to Fresno to continue to work as a starter. But they would also like to use him as a long reliever, at least until Martinez is set to return. The other option would be to use Hinshaw as the long man, and send Runzler to the minors.
Of course, the Giants can decide to carry 12 pitchers, which would change some options here.