As it turns out, maybe the San Francisco Giants should have just given Yusmeiro Petit the starting assignment on Tuesday afternoon.
In need of a spot starter for the front end of their doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds, the Giants summoned lefty Eric Surkamp from Triple-A to make his first major league appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery last July. Surkamp faltered, giving up nine hits and seven earned runs in 2.2 innings.
Luckily, the Giants made another move before Tuesday’s game, calling up Petit, the 28-year-old righthander who had spent the year in the rotation for the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies. Petit had a cup of coffee with the Giants in 2012, famously getting the start on the day after the team clinched their division.
However, he had been outrighted off the 40-man roster during spring training this year, so it was a nice comeback for Petit to earn himself a spot once again.
The Giants needed additional support in the bullpen after right-hander George Kontos pitched in long relief on Monday and rendered himself unavailable, and Kontos ended up being swapped for Petit. Bochy and the Giants’ management made a good prediction in guessing that either Surkamp or nightcap starter Barry Zito would get knocked out early, and their move to bring up Petit paid off.
The hefty Venezuelan rose to the challenge, throwing 5.1 innings and giving up two earned runs with seven strikeouts in relief of Surkamp. He provided the kind of effective long relief that the Giants have not gotten since they moved Chad Gaudin to the bullpen.
It will be interesting to see how the Giants address their bullpen situation when Kontos is eligible to return to the majors. He pitched well on Monday and didn’t really do anything to warrant a demotion. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said that he would be back with the big club soon, so it would seem that there will be a 10-day-or-so battle for a bullpen spot between two solidly-built Venezuelan relievers in Petit and Jean Machi.
Machi was the Giants’ go-to setup man at one point this year, but he’s been shaky recently and is by no means assured a spot. So if Petit can assert himself as a quality long reliever, he may have a shot to stick around for a while.