Giants’ Opening Day roster includes two rookies, just not the ones you were expected

Rookz

Late Tuesday night, after the Giants’ 3-0 win over the A’s to take the Bay Bridge Series, the Giants announced, more or less, who would be making the Opening Day roster.

It includes 12 pitchers, five outfielders and two rookies – just not the rookies you might have been expecting.

With injuries to Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija, rookie relief pitchers Pierce Johnson and Roberto Gomez were informed they would be joining the club Thursday for the opener at Dodger Stadium. Another rookie, outfielder Steven Duggar will be heading to Triple-A Sacramento, news that will frustrate some Giants fans (not this Giant fan. Duggar needs to play every day and Giants face a ton of lefties to open the season).

Here’s the 25-man roster, with one question remaining.

Starting pitchers (4): LH Ty Blach, RH Johnny Cuetro, LH Derek Holland, RH Chris Stratton.

Relievers (8): RH Mark Melancon, LH Tony Watson, RH Sam Dyson, RH Hunter Strickland, LH Josh Osich,  RH Cory Gearrin, RH Johnson, RH Gomez.

Catchers (2): Buster Posey, Nick Hundley.

Infielders (6): Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, Pablo Sandoval, Kelby Tomlinson.

Outfielders (5): Andrew McCutchen, Austin Jackson, Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, Gorkys Hernandez.

Disabled list (4): Bumgarner, Samardzija, Will Smith, Julian Fernandez.

The one question is Melancon, who remains uncertain for the opener.

Actually, there are two questions. The other question is which player will be dropped from the 40-man roster to make room for Blanco.

So who are these rookie pitchers?

Pierce Johnson, a 26-year-old righthander, is a former first-round pick (43rd overall pick) of the Chicago Cubs in 2012. He spent six seasons in the minors, most of them as a starter and most of them with good numbers. But his last two, at the Triple-A level, were less impressive. He was 4-6 with a 6.14 ERA in 22 games and 11 starts in 2016. He was 3-2 with a 4.31 ERA in 43 games (42 relief outings) in 2017. He spent three days in the majors with the Cubs last May, making one appearance and giving up two unearned runs in one inning. He was designated for assignment in September and claimed off waivers by the Giants.

He had a strong spring, pitching seven shutout innings, allowing just one hit and three walks with nine strikeouts. But he was also among one the Giants’ first cuts from big-league camp back on March 13 and was set to open the season at Double-A Richmond before getting his Opening Day assignment.

Roberto Gomez is a 6-foot-6, 28-year-old righthander. He was signed by the Rays out of the Dominican Republic in 2010. He pitched five seasons in the Rays system, mostly as a starter, before getting injured and released by the Rays in 2014. Injury kept him sidelined in 2015-16. He was signed by the Giants in November 2016.

He was 3-9 with 4.07 ERA in 38 games, 13 starts, for Triple-A Sacramento last season before getting called up by the Giants in September. He gave up five earned runs in 5.1 innings in four outings for the Giants.

Gomez was part of the second round of cuts by the Giants after giving up eight runs (three earned) in 8.1 innings this spring. He had 13 strikeouts. Like Johnson, Gomez was set to start the season at Double-A Richmond.

Both pitchers made the final 25 in part that both can pitch a couple of innings at a time. The Giants don’t have a true long man in the bullpen, so these two provide some of that given the Giants are opening the season with four starters and 12 total relievers.

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