Giants review: Chris Stratton's roller-coaster season from start to finish


SAN FRANCISCO — When he appeared on The Giants Insider Podcast in September, Chris Stratton described his season as “a couple of different seasons.” That roller coaster ride would continue. 

Stratton gave that description a few days after his shutout of the Rockies, but over his final two starts, he allowed seven earned in 7 2/3 innings. In a relief appearance on the final day of the season, he was charged with five earned in two innings. 

There was never any consistency for Stratton, who is profiled here in Part Three of our look back at the 2018 Giants. If you missed it, yesterday we took a look at the pitchers and hitters who were on the roster but did not play with the Giants in September. 

What Went Right

Stratton was on an all-around heater the first month of the season. He made his first Opening Day roster, posted a 2.32 ERA through his first five starts, and flew home in time to witness the birth of his second child on April 25.

A stint in the minors came with a positive; Stratton spent some time working with Ryan Vogelsong and those mechanical adjustments helped him get back on track when he returned to the big league rotation. 

Only eight National League starters threw a shutout in 2018 and Stratton was one of them. He blanked the Rockies on Sept. 14, giving the Giants their first shutout in over a year. That was his 10th win, which was a team-high. Stratton became the first Giants starter since 2016 to hit double-digits. 

What Went Wrong

After coming back from the paternity list, Stratton posted a 6.17 ERA in his next 13 starts. He was optioned to Triple-A on July 7. Stratton was adamant that the trip back home didn’t impact him on the mound.

“It was just bad timing with my mechanics getting out of whack,” he said. “There really was no correlation. It was just one of those timing deals and I hate that it happened that way.”

Stratton was optioned to Triple-A a second time after allowing 10 hits and six runs in three innings on August 3. The rough final week left Stratton with a 5.09 ERA, the sixth-worst in the NL among pitchers who threw at least 100 innings. He was hit particularly hard by lefties, allowing a .834 OPS.

While Stratton improved his walk rate, his strikeout rate dropped from 7.8 strikeouts-per-nine in 2017 to 7.0 in 2018. 

Contract Status

Stratton made $552,000 in 2018, a shade over the league minimum. He is not arbitration-eligible.

The Future

Stratton’s future with the Giants will depend on what happens with others. He is out of options, and if Jeff Samardzija comes back healthy and Derek Holland re-signs, there isn’t an open rotation spot.

The staff has never really viewed Stratton as a bullpen arm, and despite some of the ugly numbers, he is a nice depth piece for a rotation. But if the Giants have five starters ahead of him next spring, they’ll have to make a tough decision.

The Sabean-Evans front office was big on inventory, and players with no options remaining often edged out others, but a new regime may take a different approach. 

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