Oh look at that. The sun DID come up on Saturday. They said it would.
It’s hard not to imagine San Francisco Giants walking under a perpetual cloud of gloom after a bad, bad couple of days to end Spring Training.
The Giants returned to the Bay Area for final preparations for the next Thursday’s season opener knowing they won’t have two of the top three starting pitchers on the active roster at the beginning of the year.
Jeff Samardzija will miss at least the first three weeks of the season with a strained pectoral muscle. Things got a whole lot worse on Friday, when Madison Bumgarner suffered a broken pinky finger on his pitching hand after getting tagged with a comebacker.
The outlook isn’t good for Bumgarner. He’ll have a pin placed in his hand this weekend, a pin he hopes can be removed in four to six weeks. Think May 1. And then he can start throwing again.
How long it takes for Bumgarner to get back to being game ready will determine how long he’s out, but right now the Giants have to be prepared for going the first two months of the season without their best pitcher.
Not exactly the way you hoped to start a season after coming off your worst season in three decades.
“Obviously, we know what he means to us …” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Unfortunately, you’ve got to deal with these things. But this one certainly was a downer today because we were all getting ready to go to San Francisco and now we’ve got to make some adjustments.”
So, now what?
The Giants started this week thinking their rotation would be Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Samardzija, plus the best two out of a trio of Chris Stratton, Derek Holland and Ty Blach, with the third starting the season in the bullpen.
Then Samardzija got hurt, and it looked like it would Bumgarner, Cueto, Stratton and Holland, which Blach as the swing guy early as the Giants don’t need a No. 5 starter until April 10.
Now the Giants are looking at Cueto, Stratton, Holland, Blach and SOMEBODY in the No. 5 spot, when needed. Bochy said the team likely will look from within, which means Tyler Beede or Andrew Suarez, both of whom were slated to start the season at Triple-A.
It also means the Giants almost certainly will open the season with 13 pitchers. That means they’ll have to choose one out of three reserve outfield candidates – Gregor Blanco, Steven Duggar or Gorkys Hernandez. Jarrett Parker was informed Friday he would be put on waivers.
For a team that many thought would need everything to go right to be a playoff contender against after a 64-98 campaign last season, the Giants are definitely getting off to a wrong start.
The goal now is to keep their heads above water until Bumgarner returns. If the team is anywhere near .500 on Memorial Day, Giants fans would have to feel ecstatic.
But even that might hide the bigger impact of losing Bumgarner and Samardzija so early in the season.
The Giants’ bullpen had enjoyed a very strong spring, and was a source of optimism for a club in an area that has been a sore spot in recent seasons.
The Giants lost two pitchers they could depend on giving six or seven innings most every outing and replacing them with pitchers they HOPE can give them six good innings.
That is going to put a heavier burden on the bullpen, the result of which might not be completely felt until the second half of the season.
In the meantime, the Giants will be asking back-of-the-rotation pitchers to step up, the bullpen to take on a bigger role and, of course, the offense to produce.
It’s a lot to ask.