LOS ANGELES — With 14 years of major league experience and eight lifelong postseason starts under his belt, 35-year-old Johnny Couto has enjoyed a long and impressive major league career.
As he neared the end of the six-year, $130 million contract he signed with the Giants in December 2015, Cueto has also dealt with an elbow injury and inconsistent command, which ultimately kept him off the team’s NLDS roster. .
When right-hander Anthony Descalfani was relegated in the second inning of a 7-2 Game 4 NLDS defeat on Tuesday, many Giants fans thought that Descalafni, who posted a 7.33 ERA against the Dodgers this season, should start instead of Cueto. Why was it chosen for
When a long list of Giants relievers proved ineffective in a defeat that set up a winner-take-all Game 5 on Thursday at Oracle Park, it was easy to see that there was a pitcher like Cueto who could be available in a long relief role. Could have been valuable to San Francisco.
Instead of playing meaningful innings for the Giants in their historic NLDS series against the Dodgers, the only activity Cueto participated in this week was taking pregame groundballs in a mid-field position during batting practice.
The Giants’ decision to drop Cueto from their NLDS roster drew understandable criticism from fans on social media, but the team ultimately had priorities beyond postseason experience in building out its playoff pitching staff.
With MLB’s current playoff format, teams are required to have no more than four starters during the post-season series. Cueto was not seen as a top-four option anyway, but the decision to choose Descalafni ahead of him was made simple for the Giants when Couto missed more than three weeks during September with a right elbow strain. Had gone.
The veteran returned to the Giants during the final weeks of the regular season, but made his first career appearance from the bullpen as he was not stretched to throw more than 60 pitches from 55.
Cueto performed well in 2 1/3 innings against the Diamondbacks on 30 September, but faced one of the weakest offensive clubs in the majors, and the Giants decided to see him as a better option for the team. Did not get enough confidence in decision makers. Kervin Castro and 25-year-old Wright Jack Littel for cheating.
Given how pitchers often struggle when returning from elbow injuries, it is also possible that some members of the team’s taxi squad, such as Jay Jackson and Jose Quintana, would have also been given priority over Cueto. Given how the Giants’ bullpen fared in rough performances in Game 2 and Game 4 of the series, it’s reasonable to wonder whether Kyoto, who has featured in several World Series games, was given a less experienced option anyway. should have been included.
Another option for the Giants was to have a 13th pitcher on their 26-man NLDS roster instead of a 14th-ranked player, but most teams structure their rosters with 12 pitchers and 14 position players to limit their ability to create friendly matchups late in the game. be maximized. Opposition to Bullpens. The Giants have placed a premium on gaining platoon advantages since Farhan Zaidi became the team’s president of baseball operations in November 2018, so San Francisco is unlikely to be a team that takes a stand on its staff during the playoff series. Holds extra pitchers.
If the Giants advance to the NLCS with a win in Thursday’s winner-take-all Game 5 in San Francisco, the structure of the playoff roster could change, but it may not be good news for Cueto.
Left-hander Tony Watson (shoulder strain) could be ready to return to the roster and pitch in relief, while first baseman Brandon Belt (fractured left thumb) could also be available to play in the middle of the series . Teams may not add players to the roster during a series unless another player must be removed due to injury, so the Giants may elect to keep the belt on their roster ahead of outfielder Alex Dickerson, who is known as the NLDS. has not been seen as a candidate to start during. .
If the belt is not included, the Giants could drop Dickerson from their roster in favor of right-hand utility hitter Thyro Estrada. Estrada has better contact skills and the Braves, who advanced to the NLCS on Tuesday, have more left-handed relief options than the Dodgers.