Giants' rep, success lure Chatwood west

August 19th, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO -- After being cut by the Blue Jays three weeks ago, found himself weighing a few offers. He ultimately chose to sign a Minor League deal with the Giants.

The decision wasn’t all that difficult. Chatwood already knew San Francisco general manager Scott Harris from their overlapping tenures with the Cubs, and he preferred to return to the West Coast to be closer to his family in his native Southern California. Another plus? Joining a first-place team that has emerged as one of the sport’s biggest surprises.

“Obviously, they’re the best team in baseball,” Chatwood said Wednesday before pitching two innings and allowing five runs (three earned) in the Giants' 6-2, 12-inning loss to the Mets. “Who doesn’t want to go play for that?”

A former starter for the Rockies and Cubs, Chatwood pitched exclusively in relief for the Blue Jays this year, logging a 5.46 ERA over 30 appearances before being designated for assignment on July 30, when Toronto had to clear a roster spot for top Trade Deadline acquisition José Berríos.

Chatwood averaged 6.4 walks per nine innings with the Blue Jays, making him an unlikely target for the Giants, who have built their bullpen around reliable strike-throwers. But manager Gabe Kapler said he’s confident the 31-year-old right-hander’s stuff will play if he simply stays in the zone.

“What I’d say is our investment in Chatty is really about our belief that he can be a good strike-thrower and our belief that his stuff will play, and giving him an opportunity to be the pitcher that he’s been at times in his career,” Kapler said. “When he’s been that pitcher, and I’ve actually talked to quite a few hitters about this, he’s really difficult. It’s a really tough matchup and an uncomfortable at-bat. That’s what we’re trying to capture.”

Chatwood said the key for him is to get back to his strengths, as he felt he got away from those during his time with the Blue Jays.

“I throw a lot of two-seams and cutters,” Chatwood said. “I’ve always had a good four-seam, but I’m not good at throwing it up in the zone like everybody wants right now. I kind of got in the bad habit of trying to chase that, trying to please people, rather than doing what I do, throw two-seams.”

Shortly after reporting to Triple-A Sacramento, Chatwood threw a bullpen session in front of Giants director of pitching Brian Bannister, who has developed a strong track record for helping pitchers like Drew Pomeranz, Kevin Gausman and Anthony DeSclafani get back on track in San Francisco. The two spoke afterward, giving Chatwood the confidence to stick with what he does best. The results soon began to show up on the mound, as he tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings in four appearances with Sacramento before having his contract selected by the Giants on Tuesday.

“It was the first time I felt right in a while,” Chatwood said. “I think they’re good at how your body moves and how your stuff plays and kind of pitch shaping off of that. I think that’s huge. I got away from being myself a little bit. That’s hard, because once your stuff goes haywire, you don’t know how to get back. I threw a bullpen with [Bannister], and my first two outings I was kind of feeling it out. I had a good one, bad one, good one. Pitch-wise, I was just feeling how I wanted to feel. And then the last two I felt very good, so I’m excited to be here.”