The New York Mets and Cincinnati Reds collected 12 hits and 13 earned runs off Jake Peavy during the Giants' No. 4 starter's last two outings, which totaled eight innings. His ERA now sits at an even 9.00, and overall, hitters are slugging .734 off him — by far the highest in the majors. He has allowed the most doubles and triples of any pitcher in 2016.
Peavy's next start will be at AT&T Park, where he is noticeably better, but still not very good (5.29 ERA, 1.471 WHIP). Though in 2015, he finished the season with a 3.02 ERA and 1.089 WHIP at home. But his command was considerably sharper last year.
So, say Bruce Bochy decides to put Peavy on the "disabled list," who would be the guy joining the rotation? There appear to be five options.
The only player currently on the 25-man roster who could feasibly start a game for the Giants is Vin Mazzaro, but he hasn't started a major league game since July 3, 2012, and he's started only four minor league games since. He opened a game at Las Vegas for the River Cats on April 13 in his only start of 2016, and threw 53 pitches in four scoreless innings. PCL hitters were batting .200 off Mazzaro in 50 at-bats before he was summoned to San Francisco. Still, he hasn't gone more than four innings in a game, major or minor, since he pitched five in a mop-up role for the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 30, 2013. Is he a long-term solution? Absolutely not. Is he sitting 100 feet away from Bochy during most games? Yes.
Depending on the parameters you set for "most experience," you could come up with a half dozen different names. Do you remember the Giants signing Ricky Romero in the offseason? It happened on November 16 of last year in the form of a minor league deal, so he is not currently on the 40-man roster, and he's also on the 7-day disabled list. But he has 127 career major league starts, and 119 more in the minors. And compared to Mazzaro, recent experience comes into play, too, as Romero has 17 since Mazzaro's most recent big league start back in 2012. But 15 of those 17 came in 2012, and his only other two were in 2013, followed by 37 minor league starts since.
It's Chris Heston who has the best combination of qualifications; on the 40-man roster, not injured, and has logged the most MLB starts in the past 365 days. Bochy handed the ball to Heston 31 times in 2015, and he was more than serviceable (3.95 ERA, 1.311 WHIP, .397 opponent SLG) while averaging 5.2 innings per start and throwing more than 100 pitches seven times. Then there was of course the June 9 no-hitter. I don't need to go on about Heston. You all know him well.
Enter Albert Suarez. He has no major league experience, and only three starts beyond the Double-A level (all this year), but the 26-year-old Venezuelan has been the best rotation man for the Sacramento River Cats in 2016. In 25 innings, Suarez owns a 2.88 ERA and 1.240 WHIP — both best among River Cats' starters. But of course he's not on the 40-man roster, so he's highly unlikely to be the guy.
It would be fun to see Clayton Blackburn make his major league debut. The 23-year-old is arguably the only prospect that is major-league ready, and he's coming off a spectacular Pacific Coast League debut in 2015 where he led the entire league with a 2.85 ERA. (Random fun fact: Barry Zito was third on that list.) He's a ground ball machine, and most scouts give him a No. 4/5 starter ceiling. Aside from a rough outing in one of many notoriously difficult places to pitch in the PCL — Salt Lake City — Blackburn has been solid in April. Removing that day gives you four starts of 80 or more pitches, three out of four of five or more innings, and a 3.68 ERA. Blackburn was injured until May of 2015, and held a 5.04 ERA through his first five starts. Then he turned it on, going the rest of the season (15 starts) with a 2.30 ERA.
This is the pick that Bochy is most likely to do, given his track record. Not that it's only Bochy's decision, either. But there seems to be a pattern in the way the Giants go about filling voids in the 25-man roster. If Peavy winds up hitting the DL, it'll probably be Heston. It would allow Mazzaro to continue being the long man, which he is more familiar with recently, and though Heston was demoted already this year, his success has been as a starter and not out of the bullpen. Plus Heston and Peavy are on the same schedule, with Heston going today in Albuquerque for the River Cats.
Maybe Peavy will throw a gem next Monday. Three of his next four starts will be at AT&T Park, barring any rotation order tweaks. So the Giants could let him run for the next three weeks and see what happens. Actually, that's probably the most likely scenario. Forget everything you've read here.
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