ORACLE PARK — On Monday, the San Francisco Giants placed left-handed starter Derek Holland — arguably their second-best starter behind Madison Bumgarner — on the injured list, due to a finger problem that’s lingered since spring training.
In his place, the Giants have brought up Ty Blach, who had a 4.34 ERA as a starter in Triple-A Sacramento, but will be used to bolster a bullpen that threw 13 1/3 innings over the weekend against the New York Yankees. That included four innings in relief of Holland on Saturday, when he gave up six runs on five hits and three walks in five innings.
Since catching a ball on his left forefinger while practicing bunting during spring training, Holland hasn’t been able to replicate his form from a season ago. In his first campaign with the Giants, Holland went 7-9, but sported the lowest ERA he’s posted in a full season since 2013 (3.57). So far in six starts this season, Holland is 1-4 with a 5.34 ERA.
“It’s been bothering him for a while,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s to the point where we think it’s a good time to give him a little break.”
Despite Holland’s numbers, the San Francisco pitching staff has been solid in the first month of the season, posting a 3.65 team ERA. Holland’s next turn would come on Thursday — a travel day — meaning the Giants don’t have to make a decision now about replacing him in the rotation. There’s a chance they may just skip his turn, and Bochy did not completely rule out using Blach as a starter at some point.
“We’ve talked about some options, can’t say that’s a definite,” Bochy said. “We’ll see how this series goes, and we have some decent options coming up in that spot.”
Bochy said that Holland will undego “more aggressive” treatment and doesn’t think it will go behind 10 days, but if it does, it’s hard not to look at a potential call-up for Tyler Beede, especially given the fact that he’s already on the 40-man roster. San Francisco’s other option — Andrew Suarez — hasn’t had a good start for the River Cats, posting a 5.89 ERA after a productive rookie season for the big club in 2018.
During spring training, Beede struck out 13 and walked four in 10 1/3 innings. In Sacramento, Beede has posted a 1.99 ERA in 22 2/3 innings over five starts with a 1.06 WHIP and 34 strikeouts to 10 walks.
“It’s hard not to see that,” Bochy said on Sunday. “With how he threw the ball this spring, he really opened up eyes there. Trust me, he’s on the radar. What he’s doing down there, the stuff he’s throwing with, too, he’s not doing it with mirrors. He’s really demonstrating good command with high velo with a good changeup and breaking ball.”
Bochy said that outfielder Steven Duggar has made “a lot of improvement” since jamming his wrist trying to brace himself after tripping over the visitor’s bullpen mounds pursuing a foul pop up on Friday.
Duggar did not play on Saturday or Sunday, but is available to pinch hit, double-switch and come off the bench for defense on Monday.
“Probably could have put him out there,” Bochy said. “We just felt like we should give him another day, let him take batting practice on the field, do all his baseball activities. Today’s a little bit different with him, as far as availability.”
Pablo Sandoval is starting at third base for the second consecutive game after giving Evan Longoria the day off on Monday. He’s played in the last six straight games, and gone 6-for-17 (.353) with two doubles and two home runs.
“Pablo, the way he’s swinging, it’s hard not to find a spot for him right now,” Bochy said. “Just giving Longo another day and giving Pablo another start, that’s al that is.”