DeSclafani's rough patch shaking up Giants' rotation

July 2nd, 2023

NEW YORK -- The Giants expected their starting pitching depth to be the strength of their roster this season, but with one month to go until the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline, the unit is looking increasingly in need of reinforcement.

The Giants had been counting on to anchor the front end of the rotation alongside fellow right-handers Logan Webb and Alex Cobb, but DeSclafani has hit a rough patch in recent weeks, surrendering three home runs in three innings in a 4-1 loss to the Mets on Saturday afternoon at Citi Field.

The Mets produced all three solo shots within the span of four batters in the bottom of the third. Francisco Alvarez opened the scoring by driving a first-pitch sinker over the right-field wall for a 416-foot blast. DeSclafani struck out No. 9 hitter Luis Guillorme for the second out of the inning, but he couldn’t limit the damage after turning the lineup over, giving up back-to-back homers to Brandon Nimmo and Francisco Lindor to put the Giants in a 3-0 hole.

“It’s very much a command and location thing when it comes to Anthony, because he’s such a strike-thrower,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “He’s always going to work a low walk rate. Balls are going to be in play, and if they’re in the middle of the plate, they’re going to be hit hard. I would say that’s the biggest difference for him right now.”

Nimmo and Lindor’s blasts came in two-strike counts, which only added to the frustration for DeSclafani. The 33-year-old veteran thought he had strike three on Nimmo before the homer, prompting him to snipe at home-plate umpire Malachi Moore when Moore came to the mound to break up a visit with pitching coach Andrew Bailey.

“They put some good swings on the ball,” DeSclafani said. “I thought I kind of got out of that inning with clipping a strike to Nimmo, and I didn’t get the call, so that was frustrating. They just put some good swings on. Unfortunately, I made bad pitches and they torched them.”

Kapler opted to lift DeSclafani after he threw only 55 pitches over three innings, which matched the New Jersey native’s shortest start of the season. Sean Manaea and Jakob Junis combined to cover the remainder of the game, but the Giants’ bats were silenced by Mets right-hander Justin Verlander, who gave up only one unearned run on five hits over seven innings.

After logging a 2.13 ERA through his first six starts of the year, DeSclafani has now recorded a 6.02 ERA over his last 11 outings. The Giants have maintained that DeSclafani is healthy, but he acknowledged that his body hasn’t been bouncing back as well as he’d like after missing most of last season due to right ankle surgery.

“I’m running on fumes a little bit,” DeSclafani said. “Fatigue has been setting in earlier in games. I haven’t been able to get over the hump with that. I think I’m just looking forward to the All-Star break. Hopefully I can get a couple of extra days here.”

The Giants have several pitchers with starting experience on their 26-man roster, including Manaea, Junis, Keaton Winn, Tristan Beck, Ross Stripling and Alex Wood, but DeSclafani, Webb and Cobb are the only three who have been used exclusively out of the rotation this season.

Stripling will start Sunday’s series finale, but he could be used in tandem with Wood, who delivered five shutout innings after coming in behind an opener in his last appearance on Tuesday.

Still, DeSclafani’s struggles will likely compel the Giants to survey the market for starting pitching in the coming weeks. The Cubs’ Marcus Stroman, the White Sox’s Lucas Giolito, the Tigers’ Eduardo Rodriguez and the Guardians’ Shane Bieber are among the hurlers who could be available at the Deadline, though San Francisco also has a couple of internal options who could potentially provide a boost in the interim.

The 25-year-old Winn seems likely to earn a longer look in the rotation after impressing in his first career start against the Blue Jays on Thursday, and the Giants also have top pitching prospect Kyle Harrison waiting in the wings at Triple-A Sacramento.