Beck shows rotation promise in bulk role vs. Dodgers

September 25th, 2023

LOS ANGELES -- Giants starters rank last in the Majors in innings pitched this year, a byproduct of the unconventional pitching usage the club employed for most of the season.

With Logan Webb and Alex Cobb serving as the only two true constants in the rotation, the Giants relied on a heavy mix of openers and bulk-inning types to fill out their staff, a strategy that initially proved successful but lost some of its effectiveness as the year wore on.

  • Games remaining (6): vs. SD (3), vs. LAD (3)
  • Standings update: The Giants (77-79) are five games behind the Cubs (82-74) for the third and final National League Wild Card spot. They also trail the Marlins (81-75) and Reds (80-77) and are tied with the Padres (77-79) in the standings.
  • Elimination number: 2

Will the mixed results compel the Giants to revert to a more traditional rotation in the future? 

“I think that’s the goal,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “I don’t think that ambition will ever go away for us.” 

Between Webb, Cobb and rookies Kyle Harrison, Keaton Winn and , the Giants certainly have the makings of a potential five-man rotation for next year. Beck has primarily been used out of the bullpen this year, but he showcased his starter potential by working 4 2/3 innings of two-run ball in a 3-2 walk-off loss to the Dodgers in 10 innings on Sunday night.

The defeat dropped the Giants two games under .500 for the first time since May 21 (22-24) and capped a dismal 2-8 road trip that effectively killed their chances of making the playoffs. 

LaMonte Wade Jr. tied the game with his 17th home run of the year -- a two-run blast off Dodgers right-hander Lance Lynn in the fifth -- but the Giants finished 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and couldn’t cash in on three bases-loaded opportunities, including their final one in the top of the 10th.

With Mitch Haniger at second base as the automatic runner, the Dodgers intentionally walked Joc Pederson to put a pair of runners on for Thairo Estrada, who lifted a fly ball to center field that Kiké Hernández appeared to lose in the twilight, allowing it to drop for a single that loaded the bases with one out. 

Pinch-hitter Patrick Bailey followed with a 103.4 mph comebacker that deflected off the shoulder of reliever Shelby Miller and bounced to Chris Taylor, who stepped on second base and then threw to first to complete the 1-4-3 double play. Taylor ended the game with a walk-off single off Camilo Doval in the bottom of the 10th, leaving the Giants tied with the Padres for third place in the NL West.

“It’s challenging, obviously,” Kapler said. “I thought we did a really good job fighting, scratching, clawing to stay in that game. Those are the types of games that we’ve been able to win this season. To have Pat have a really good at-bat … in the biggest moment, you want to see him get rewarded for it. It’s kind of disappointing it didn’t happen.” 

The Giants also loaded the bases with two outs in the third, but they failed to score after Estrada popped up a bunt attempt that was caught by Lynn. Haniger, who has lost an everyday role after batting .150 (9-for-60) in 20 games since returning from the injured list, struck out to end a bases-loaded threat in the top of the ninth, as well.

“It’s definitely been tough,” Haniger said. “Frustrated, disappointed in the performance. At the end of the day, I’m just trying to work hard, get better and help the team win. Unfortunately, I just haven’t been able to come through in situations like that.”  

The Giants’ offensive woes have been arguably their biggest downfall in the second half, but their pitching offers some reason for optimism moving forward, particularly following the emergence of young hurlers like Harrison, Winn and Beck.

“I think we’ve got a lot of talent coming up the pipeline,” Beck said. “I think this organization has definitely shown that they know how to develop arms. I think we’re starting to just now see the tip of the iceberg on that front.”  

After opener Ryan Walker struck out two in a scoreless first inning, Beck entered the game in the second, though he gave up a one-out double to J.D. Martinez and then hung a first-pitch slider that James Outman crushed out to right-center field for a two-run homer.

Despite the bumpy start, Beck settled in and didn’t allow any more damage the rest of the way, retiring 11 of the final 13 batters he faced. The 27-year-old right-hander struck out three and walked none in the 67-pitch outing, leaving his ERA at 4.05 over 32 appearances (two starts) in 2023.

The Giants have valued Beck’s versatility and his ability to adapt to a bullpen role this year, but he said his goal will be to win a spot in the starting rotation coming out of Spring Training next year. 

“Everybody wants to be a starter, right?” Beck said. “I think that’s something that is going to kind of be my focus this offseason.”