SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants will be forced to navigate a critical juncture of the season without their closer.
Veteran Jake McGee landed on the 10-day injured list with a right oblique strain ahead of Friday night’s series opener against the National League East-leading Braves, leaving a significant void at the back end of the Giants’ bullpen. The move is retroactive to Tuesday, meaning McGee will be eligible to return on Sept. 24 at the earliest.
McGee, 35, hadn’t pitched in five days, as he began to feel discomfort in his side while warming up in the bullpen earlier this week. He subsequently underwent an MRI exam, which revealed the injury.
“It wasn’t anything that was causing him severe discomfort,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “It was something that he was still noticing and feeling. Anytime you’re feeling your oblique on your front side, it’s something to be cognizant of. We’re going to take that very seriously and try to get him ready and healthy as soon as we can.”
Signed to a two-year, $5 million deal over the offseason, McGee has logged a 2.72 ERA with a career-high 31 saves over 59 2/3 innings for the first-place Giants. Kapler said he’s hoping McGee will be able to return before the end of the regular season and listed Tyler Rogers, Tony Watson and Dominic Leone as candidates to pitch the ninth in the interim.
“I don’t think we have to be super strict to those three, but they’re three that are capable of covering that inning,” Kapler said. “I don’t think it’s any secret that Rogers has been one of our better relievers all year, so if we needed somebody to throw the ninth, I think he’s totally capable of that. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of trying to get Rogers to face three or four of the toughest hitters in their lineup. Sometimes, that’s going to come in the eighth. Sometimes, that’s going to come in the ninth. It might come a little bit earlier depending on the situation.”
Rogers, 30, has posted a 1.65 ERA with 12 saves over a team-high 71 appearances for the Giants this year. The submariner has mostly been used in one-inning stints, but Kapler said he’d consider extending Rogers in key spots down the stretch.
“It wouldn’t necessarily be two-plus [innings], but it might be something like five outs,” Kapler said. “I think that could happen at any time. Also, he’s pitched a lot. He’s really important to us. It became even more critical that he’s healthy and strong. We’ve got a stretch to get through, and we know how important these games are. They’re the only games right now, so yes, it’s something that’s being considered and we’ll continue to consider.”
To replace McGee on the 28-man roster, the Giants recalled right-hander Jay Jackson, who was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento on Thursday to create a spot for left-hander Sammy Long. The Giants also activated infielder Donovan Solano and optioned utility man Thairo Estrada.
Solano returned to the roster for the first time since Aug. 24 after missing 21 games due to a breakthrough COVID-19 case. The decision to send down Estrada thins the Giants’ shortstop depth behind starter Brandon Crawford, but Kapler said he believes Solano is capable of serving as a backup there should the need arise.
Solano didn’t start against Braves right-hander Ian Anderson on Friday, but his return will strengthen the Giants' bench and give Kapler another talented bat to deploy in pinch-hit situations.
“As good as Estrada has been for us, Solano is a very good pinch-hit at-bat and a veteran,” Kapler said. “He’s a guy that’s quite dependable in that role.”