Giants pondering rotation as Manaea's struggles continue


SAN FRANCISCO -- Gabe Kapler played it coy before Wednesday's game when asked if the Giants had finalized pitching plans for this weekend's four-game series against the up-and-coming Arizona Diamondbacks. The Giants were listing "TBA" for all four games, and Kapler said they were continuing to have discussions, noting that every game brings more information about certain options. 

Wednesday's game did provide the Giants with more to go on. It also might lead to some changes at the back of the rotation.

Sean Manaea gave up eight runs -- four of them earned -- in an 11-6 loss to the Washington Nationals, continuing a trend for the two offseason additions to the rotation. Manaea has a 7.96 ERA through eight appearances and Ross Stripling is at 6.66 through four starts and three relief appearances. 

That's not sustainable for a team that hopes to contend for a postseason spot, in large part because of what was supposed to be a deep rotation. Asked after the game about the back of the rotation and Manaea in particular, Kapler said this was a start he wanted to break down by rewatching the film before he leaned in any direction. 

"You learn every time out. If you go back to Sean's last outing, after the first inning the work got much much better. We were kind of hoping for some continuation of that in this outing and we didn't see that," Kapler said. "The process metrics were pretty good, or better (than they've been). The swings by the hitters were also pretty good. There were a lot of foul balls and he just wasn't able to put hitters away. 

"We'll take that into consideration. We'll all be in the pitching room and get together and determine what's best going forward. But I still think right now we need to go analyze what happened today a little bit." 

The timing of the latest blow-up was interesting, and not just because the addition of Casey Schmitt on Tuesday was a signal that the Giants might be ready to move forward with youth more quickly than most anticipated. The Giants this weekend will see Cy Young candidate Zac Gallen, but also rookie right-handers Brandon Pfaadt and Ryne Nelson, along with second-year lefty Tommy Henry. 

The Giants' answer to that kind of young group is lefty Kyle Harrison, who dominated in his last Triple-A start and is getting close to being big league-ready. Harrison is scheduled to start this weekend for Sacramento, but if the struggles at the back of the big league rotation continue, his timeline could be accelerated. 

RELATED: Schmitt's debut landmark moment for Giants organization

The more immediate solution should be a familiar one. Alex Wood made a rehab start over the weekend and spent the last three days at Oracle Park, waiting to hear if he'll be activated for the Diamondbacks series. The Giants had talked internally of having Wood get built up with one more rehab start, but might decide that's unnecessary with a veteran who was throwing well before he strained his left hamstring three weeks ago. 

Wood's return would push either Manaea or Stripling back to the bullpen. If Wednesday's start was an audition of sorts for Manaea, it didn't go well. He gave up a three-run homer in the second and then couldn't pitch around J.D. Davis' error in the third, getting knocked out after just eight outs. 

"All my stuff just sucked," he said afterward. "That's really what it came down to."

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