Keaton Winn

Kapler still sees Winn contributing for Giants down stretch

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Last weekend, Giants right-hander Keaton Winn joined several veterans in flying back from New York early to prepare for a series with the Seattle Mariners. A few days later, he was headed out of San Francisco, too. 

Despite a solid start to his big league career, Winn was optioned back to Triple-A on the day off to clear a roster spot for Mauricio Llovera, who was added as bullpen depth and pitched in Friday’s loss. Winn was roughed up a bit in his start on Tuesday, but overall he had pitched well since the Giants called him up last month, and manager Gabe Kapler said this was mostly about roster math.

Winn wasn't going to start a game this weekend, and the Giants will use the MLB All-Star break to line their veterans up for the start of the second half, so it was going to be a long layoff for Winn. He'll instead keep his pitch count up in Triple-A. 

"It was not the easiest conversation, obviously, because he performed well for us, and you could kind of see a scenario unfolding where he started big games down the stretch. I still see that as a strong possibility," Kapler said. "This is one of the challenges of being a young player with options. When a move needs to be made to bolster a specific part of the team, sometimes a guy that's not going to pitch for a bit is the one that doesn't get to stay for a little while. But I have strong confidence that he's going to be helping us down the stretch."

For all of the uncertainty in the rotation in recent weeks, the Giants could get pretty close to a consistent five to start the second half. Logan Webb and Alex Cobb are locked in, and Anthony DeSclafani is eligible to come off the injured list for the fourth game of the second half. The Giants also are hoping to reestablish Ross Stripling as an option, and Kapler said he expects the right-hander to have a big second half. While Alex Wood has been pitching behind an opener, that’s not viewed as a long-term arrangement. 

It's not unusual for teams to send out young pitchers around the All-Star break so that they can better control their workload. Optioning Winn opened a spot for Llovera, a versatile reliever who had a 3.92 ERA in Triple-A with more than a strikeout per inning. The right-hander made 17 appearances for the Giants last season. He struck out three in two scoreless innings Friday. 

"Llovera has been pitching well," Kapler said. "He was actually a pretty key piece for us at times last year. He's throwing hard and ready to go."

--- Luke Jackson (lower back strain) threw a bullpen session at Oracle Park on Friday and Kapler thought he looked good. He said he doesn't think it will be long before Jackson returns to the bullpen. The veteran is eligible to come back before the start of the second half. 

"He's trending in the right direction," Kapler said. 

In other bullpen news, John Brebbia (lat strain) will start a throwing program next week. 

--- There was a point on the last road trip when the Giants were without all three of their starting outfielders -- Michael Conforto, Mike Yastrzemski and Mitch Haniger -- but Farhan Zaidi said he doesn't anticipate adding an outfielder at the deadline, noting that help could be on the way internally.

Luis Gonzalez (back surgery) is ramping up his rehab at the team's facility in Scottsdale and is about 10 days away from playing in minor league games. He could be an option for the big league club at some point in August. 

Heliot Ramos has been red-hot in Triple-A while rehabbing an oblique strain that cost him nearly two months, and he'll be eligible to return July 18 if needed. Haniger (fractured forearm) has hit every checkpoint thus far and should be back in early September. 

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