ORACLE PARK — In the second game of the Bay Bridge Series – which the Giants lost 9-5 to the Oakland Athletics – right-hander Tyler Beede lasted just four innings while conceding four runs on eight hits.
It was the fifth straight start in which Beede had failed to record a quality start – his last was on July 19 with eight scoreless frames against the New York Mets – all of which ended in defeat for San Francisco.
Beede has not been the same pitcher he was during the San Francisco’s scorching July, and as he has cooled, so have the Giants, who will now head to Arizona with a re-engineered rotation.
“The stuff is there,” Beede said, “but the attack just wasn’t where I needed it to be today just in terms of getting ahead of guys.”
Manager Bruce Bochy said that the Giants will be persistent in trying to get Beede back on track.
“We’re just trying to get him over the hump,” Bochy said. “It’s still a work in progress and we’ll keep working.”
Bochy declined to comment on the security of Beede’s spot in the rotation. This weekend against the Diamondbacks, the Giants will start Dereck Rodriguez on Thursday, followed by Jeff Samardzija on Friday, with Saturday’s starter to be announced and Sunday going to Madison Bumgarner.
With Beede in a funk and Johnny Cueto still rehabbing his 2018 Tommy John surgery, a Giants pitching staff that carried the team into the trade deadline appears to have only two reliable starters in Bumgarner and Samardzija – the only regular San Francisco starters with sub-5.00 ERAs (3.63 and 3.55 respectively).
The other three rotation spots have been intermittently occupied by Beede, Conner Menez, Shaun Anderson – who has also struggled over his past few starts (11 earned runs in his last 13 innings) and is dealing with blister issues on his right hand – and Rodriguez. Rodriguez is the oldest of the four at 27, while none of the other three pitchers are over 26 – Beede is 26; Anderson and Menez are 24.
Including Wednesday’s loss, the Giants are 4-1 in August games started by Bumgarner or Samardzija and 1-7 in all others. A San Francisco starter outside of the top two has not registered a victory since July 15, when Rodriguez recorded a win in the second game of a doubleheader against the Colorado Rockies.
If the Giants are to stand a real chance at making a run for the second NL wild card – currently four games behind the St. Louis Cardinals – they will need more consistency from the back end of the rotation.
A September return for Cueto could bolster the rotation by pushing everyone down a spot, but that would be a moot point if the Giants keep losing three out of every five games.
Anderson is close to recovery after throwing a bullpen session on Tuesday, but will need to recapture his June form – four out of six quality starts and a 3.47 ERA in 36 1/3 innings – to move the needle for a team that also struggles to score.
That leaves Beede, Rodriguez and Menez – with Drew Pomeranz and Derek Holland shipped elsewhere at the trade deadline and Andrew Suarez to be used in a strictly relief capacity – as the only other players on the Giants’ 40-man roster with starting experience.
“It’s just making the adjustments to be consistent,” Rodriguez said of his up-and-down year between Triple-A and the major league squad.
One other option San Francisco may have in its desperation for starting pitching is the organization’s No. 5 prospect, Logan Webb. The right-handed minor leaguer has impressed in his age-22 season, recording a 1.85 ERA in 12 appearances, 10 of which were starts. In his Triple-A debut on Monday, he turned in seven one-run innings in Sacramento.
Plugging Webb into a scuffling Giants rotation, though, would mean fast-tracking the youngster and potentially stunting his growth were he to have a rough major league debut.
What this adds up to in the short-term is that Rodriguez and Menez could both see the mound in the upcoming weekend series in the desert. At this point, the team’s options are limited and its best solution would be Beede and Anderson returning to form.
“We have to use who we have,” Bochy said on upcoming rotation configurations.
A healthy Cueto could change the calculus in September, but right now, what the Giants have is not good enough.