It could be argued that the San Francisco Giants‘ biggest weakness this year has been the lack of consistency from their starting rotation.
Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, and Ryan Vogelsong all got off to shaky starts, and Barry Zito has not pitched well since the early months of the season. Even with these struggles, however, the Giants have faith in the starters that they have, and it is very possible that their rotation at the beginning of next year will consist of Cain, Lincecum, Vogelsong, Madison Bumgarner and Chad Gaudin, all players that have started for the Giants this year.
Because of this, they don’t need to desperately evaluate starters in September hoping for someone who can hold down a rotation spot next season, and therefore Eric Surkamp will likely be the only starter that the team calls up when rosters expand.
Though Surkamp struggled in his lone big-league appearance this year, a doubleheader spot start against the Cincinnati Reds where he gave up seven earned runs in 2.2 innings, he still has the potential to be at least a back-of-the-rotation major league starter. Surkamp has been dominant over his 14 minor league starts this year, putting up a 2.79 overall ERA.
Particularly impressive is the fact that he has a 2.75 ERA in the hitter-dominated PCL, and he’s doing it coming off Tommy John surgery.
The 26-year-old definitely needs to work on some things, particularly his command, which was his greatest tool pre-surgery but has been inconsistent since his return. With that said, he should still be allowed to work through these things in September with the big league club.
The Giants are going to want to limit Cain and Bumgarner’s innings to keep them fresh for next season, and probably will want to have as many options as possible as they do that. This is a large reason as to why swingmen Michael Kickham and Guillermo Moscoso already have spots with the Giants in advance of the season’s final month.
The only slight snub among starters is likely to be 21-year-old left-hander Edwin Escobar. The top prospect, who was added to the Giants’ 40-man roster this season, has had a very good year, but it just doesn’t make much sense to bring him up at this point in the year.
He’s just five weeks removed from High-A ball, and though he has a 2.98 ERA and is limiting hitters to a .233 average through eight Double-A starts, he’s shown some signs of fatigue recently, and the Giants won’t want to do anything to him that could damage his arm.
Instead of getting his feet wet in the majors in September, the Giants instead will probably just let him get some rest during September and hope that he can make a contribution to the major league team at some point next season.