Gabe Kapler

Kapler believes Manaea ‘worth consideration' for rotation return

After another strong relief outing, Sean Manaea is making a case to return to the Giants' starting rotation.

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Could Giants starter-turned-reliever Sean Manaea be on his way back to the rotation?

After another solid outing in bulk relief Saturday in San Francisco’s 4-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs, manager Gabe Kapler told reporters at Oracle Park he wouldn’t rule it out.

“I think that’s worth consideration,” Kapler said (h/t’s Steven Rissotto). “I think the next time through, he’ll be considered to start a game for us, but we may just say we want to open a game in front of him or have him pitch the bulk of a game.

“We want to have him keep everything on the table, make sure that we’re examining the next matchup for him and not just looking at his performance in a vacuum, but all things will be considered.”

The Giants moved Manaea to the bullpen in mid-May. The switch came when the left-hander stumbled to a 7.96 ERA in his first eight outings after signing a two-year, $25 million contract with the Giants this offseason.

But since moving to the ‘pen, Manaea has posted a 2.29 ERA with 26 strikeouts in six appearances.

On Saturday, Kapler called Manaea’s outing a bright spot on a night when the Giants nearly were no-hit by Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks. Manaea pitched 41/3 innings after replacing Jakob Junis, who followed opener John Brebbia, in the fifth inning.

Manaea held Chicago hitless through the end of the game and struck out five – an effort Kapler described as “excellent” and “really promising.” Kapler has seen improvements from Manaea, he said, noting more carry on the pitcher’s fastball in recent outings and shorter at-bats.

“Probably the highlight of today’s game was Sean’s performance,” Kapler said.

Saturday aside, the Giants have benefitted from using an opener this season, posting a winning record (4-3) this season in games without a starter. And, clearly, Manaea in the bulk relief role has worked out well, too. But the Giants' starting rotation depth is lacking, and while it's something they very well could address at the trade deadline, Manaea arising as a potential candidate doesn't hurt.

So before Mitch Haniger’s two-out, eighth-inning double saved San Francisco from falling victim to the first no-hitter of the 2023 MLB season, many Giants fans probably were focused on what they didn’t want to see on the mound Saturday.

Manaea, however, is slowly but surely taking advantage of every relief opportunity he’s given. Whether it ends with him back on the mound to start games or not, he’ll certainly look to continue making an impact either way.

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