Though the San Francisco Giants suffered their first loss of the season on Tuesday night, they did get some good news, as it was announced that trusted reliever Jeremy Affeldt will start a rehab assignment at Triple-A Fresno this weekend and could be back with the Giants for the home opener next Tuesday.
Obviously San Francisco will need to clear a roster space for Affeldt, and right-hander Juan Gutierrez made himself the obvious candidate to lose his spot with his outing on Tuesday. The 30-year-old veteran relieved Matt Cain in the sixth inning, entering with a 4-3 lead. Over two innings, however, he failed to mix in an effective breaking pitch and ended up blowing the lead, giving up two runs and taking the loss.
Gutierrez was already the pitcher most likely to lose his spot when Affeldt returned, but it was conceivable that he could have outperformed fellow righty Jean Machi, who has a similar skill set to Gutierrez, but was much less effective in spring training. Over their respective first regular season performances, however, there looked to be a huge difference in ability. Machi was able to deceive hitters with his split-finger fastball, while Gutierrez’s two-seamer didn’t really fool anyone. Last night’s outing, combined with Machi’s stellar performance on opening night, likely seals Gutierrez’s fate.
Gutierrez is out of options, so the Giants will have to designate him for assignment. It’s very possible that they could get him through waivers and send him back to Triple-A, though with the amount of pitching depth the Giants have and considering the fact that Gutierrez spent the duration of the 2009-2011 and 2013 seasons in the big leagues, it may make sense to explore trade possibilities as well.