The blows just keep on coming for the San Francisco Giants.
Just as it looked like they were heading towards a period of stability with a regular rotation and Pablo Sandoval and Angel Pagan coming back from their respective injuries, the Giants sustained two more injuries Thursday night, which will throw even more obstacles in their path to repeating as NL West and World Series champions.
The first injury took place in the fifth inning of the Giants’ 2-1 loss to the Miami Marlins as starter Chad Gaudin took a liner off his pitching arm and had to leave the game. The injury looked to be pretty painful, and he was obviously too hurt to continue, but it was diagnosed as an elbow contusion and should not be exceptionally severe.
Gaudin is about as tough as they come, declaring himself ready to go earlier this season a day after he threw 72 pitches in relief, so it would be surprising if he let this injury affect him too much. That being said, he still may be forced to miss a couple starts. Giants reliever Jose Mijares had a similar injury in spring training this year and missed a few weeks, so that should provide a rough estimate of Gaudin’s recovery timetable.
While this is not an injury that is severe enough to cause the Giants to immediately go out and make a trade, it likely lessens their faith in this rotation’s ability to stay healthy. If anything, it probably increases the possibility that the Giants trade for a starter at some point, even if it’s just an innings-eater such as the Houston Astros‘ Bud Norris.
Not only would this move increase the rotation’s reliability, but it would allow Gaudin to return to a setup role in the bullpen, which seems more necessary now that Jeremy Affeldt has blown three games in the past two weeks.
In the interim, however, expect the Giants to promote Mike Kickham if Gaudin has to go on the DL. He went 7.2 innings for Fresno on Thursday night while giving up an earned run, walking two, and striking out five. Manager Bruce Bochy previously stated that he wanted to give the lefthander another chance, and this would be a good spot to do it.
The other key injury the Giants sustained Thursday came in a minor league game, as Angel Pagan was carted off the field, appearing to have re-aggravated his hamstring injury while rehabbing with the Class A San Jose Giants. Pagan had shown up late and been inserted in the third inning, so perhaps he didn’t get a proper amount of stretching in before going into the game.
Whatever the case, it now seems a near-certainty that Pagan will need surgery and will be sidelined for at least 6-8 weeks. This is not necessarily the worst thing in the world, as it’s good to get the injury fixed now instead of him having to play through it for the rest of the season.
The Giants will not suffer on defense, as Gregor Blanco and Juan Perez have been spectacular in center. Perez was also providing a serious offensive spark before going 0-for-7 over the past two games.
If the trio of Blanco, Perez, and Andres Torres can keep up their solid performances, the Giants should not be put into too deep of a hole, though they will miss Pagan’s leadership and his status as a proven winner.
If necessary, the Giants also have three outfielders in Fresno who have loads of potential in Gary Brown, Roger Kieschnick, and Francisco Peguero, so they should not have to go searching for another outfielder. Brown could be pushing for a spot in the majors sooner rather than later, as he is hitting .390 with four home runs in his last 10 games.