April 13, 2024
"I would say Kyle (Harrison) and Tristan (Beck) both starting games this turn is an indication that we're moving in that direction," Gabe Kapler said.

SAN DIEGO — In one corner of the Giants’ clubhouse here, Keaton Winn took a seat in front of the fresh No. 67 jersey hanging in his locker. A little while later, Tristan Beck, clearly not a starter who keeps to himself before taking the ball, came over and started to chat. Taking a break from strumming a guitar shockingly well, Ryan Walker made it a threesome. And before long, Kyle Harrison had joined them, too.

Pitching coach Andrew Bailey walked past and couldn’t help but notice the assembly of young arms.

“Wow! Look at this pow-wow,” he said, maybe including a word not fit to print.

Between Walker, the opener extraordinaire; Beck, who made his second straight start Friday against the Padres; Harrison, who has lived up to the billing as a top prospect; and Winn, who was one of two September call-ups, the Giants will be looking to four rookies to take down meaningful innings this month.

Entering the final month of the season, the Giants are also closer than any time since April to rolling with a traditional five-man rotation. Beck and Harrison are now regularly taking the ball every five days, and before an elbow injury knocked him out for a month, Winn had begun to start games, too.

“I would say Kyle and Tristan both starting games this turn is an indication that we’re moving in that direction,” manager Gabe Kapler said before Friday’s game. “But,” he couched, “it’s not necessarily predictive of what we’re going to do the next time through.”

Logan Webb and Alex Cobb are the only Giants starters with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title, but the four rookies’ combined stat line would make for a nice No. 3 starter: 153⅓ innings, 3.05 ERA, 24.2% strikeout rate and 6.7% walk rate.

“I’ve been impressed by these guys all year,” Webb said. “I’d be excited to see (Beck) keep building up his pitch count. We’ve already seen Keaton earlier this year, he did great. His game against the Blue Jays was fantastic. I love seeing all these young guys do really well. It’s all about confidence, right? You have a couple good moments and you’re like, all right, you start to figure out that you can do this.”

Harrison is the exception, Webb said. His 6⅓ shutout innings and 11 strikeouts in his second big-league start would serve as a confidence booster for anyone else, but for Harrison, he said, “I don’t think he needed to prove it to himself. I think he knows how good he is. You can just tell by the way he walks around.”

Harrison’s next start will come Saturday against fellow southpaw Blake Snell, who will take the NL’s top ERA into the start.

After that, it will be Alex Cobb on Sunday.

Then likely Webb on Monday.

Jakob Junis and Sean Manaea will both be on regular rest Tuesday and coming off a combined 7⅓ innings of one-run ball.

And Wednesday, it should be back to Beck if Friday goes well.

Is that? It couldn’t be. Just maybe. A starting rotation?

“We want it to be anything goes,” Kapler said. “For planning purposes it’s a little bit more challenging and for us we maintain that flexibility and that freedom.”

Where does Winn fit in?

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The 25-year-old righty made two starts at Triple-A Sacramento since returning from an elbow sprain. He maxed out at three innings and 53 pitches in his last outing and likely isn’t ready to take down a start unencumbered by pitch restrictions. He is expected to be inserted into the bullpen, at least initially, and after being scratched from his start Thursday was available to pitch behind Beck on Friday.

It is a different looking group than the one they started the year with. Alex Wood appears cemented in a relief role. Manaea has done his best work out of the bullpen. And with Ross Stripling due back soon, Kapler turned to a track by Bay Area rapper Too $hort: “Get in where you fit in.”

The playoff race is on. It’s all hands on deck.

“The great thing about September as we turn the page and move into this month, this is when players start to recognize that they’re going to do everything they possibly can to help us win games,” Kapler said. “Once you get into September, everybody just wants to contribute to being a winning team.”