Nick Vincent to be used by Giants as opener vs. Blue Jays on Tuesday


SAN FRANCISCO -- Farhan Zaidi made waves at the Winter Meetings in December when he told a group of beat writers that the Giants could use an opener during the upcoming season. Just 41 games into the Zaidi era, the Giants will actually try it. 

Nick Vincent will start Tuesday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays, the team announced Monday. Vincent has served as the bullpen's de facto long reliever this season, but he has not recorded more than nine outs in an appearance. Vincent has made 366 appearances in his career but started just once, going two innings last season as the Seattle Mariners tried the opener. 

The Giants originally had slated Tyler Beede to start Tuesday's game, but they now are listing Vincent and leaving Wednesday open. Beede could in theory pitch the bulk of Tuesday's game, although openers traditionally have been used to exploit platoons, so lefty Derek Holland, recently moved to the bullpen, could be a better fit to carry a heavy load Tuesday. 

Regardless of the order, it's clear why the Giants are trying this. They have allowed 42 runs in the first inning this season, consistently falling behind in games. They also are 17-23, and a clubhouse that includes several pitchers who have publicly railed against the idea of an opener really does not have a leg to stand on. 

The strategy, popularized by the Rays last year and followed by others, is designed to exploit platoons and limit a starting pitcher's exposure. The Giants have considered using one all season -- and nearly did when Ty Blach was called up for the Dodgers series last homestand -- and Zaidi said Sunday that the team needed to more heavily lean on the bullpen, which has been the strength. Vincent, the first opener, has a 2.25 ERA in his 14 appearances. 

At those Meetings in December, Zaidi explained why he was so intrigued by the concept of mixing it up. The Giants have internally discussed several options to bolster their staff, going beyond traditional openers.

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"Once you get away from 'this guy is going to throw the first six innings of the game,' it opens up a lot of stuff," Zaidi said in December. "Even with an opener, is an opener a one-inning guy, a two-inning guy, a three-inning guy? Again, I think the more versatile your pitching staff is and the more kind of multi-inning guys you have, the more kinds of ways you can get through (games)."

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