The San Francisco Giants called up one of their top pitching prospects, Shaun Anderson, from Triple-A Sacramento, to start Wednesday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays, and he helped bring the team a 4-3 win.
Anderson initially came over to the Giants organization (from the Boston Red Sox) as part of a trade for former-San Francisco third baseman Eduardo Nunez, packaged with another solid prospect, RHP Gregory Santos. With the Triple-A River Cats, Anderson sported a 4.11 ERA in 35 innings pitched (seven starts), including 37 strikeouts, and a 1.29 WHIP.
As for the state of the Giants starting pitching staff, who actually started off the year looking solid, their combined ERA has jumped to 5.24 (25th in MLB). Part of the problem has been the inconsistent pitching of sophomore Dereck Rodriguez and veteran lefties Derek Holland and Drew Pomeranz (currently on the injured list). In a corresponding move, Rodriguez, son of Hall of Fame catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, was sent down to Triple-A Sacramento, making room for Anderson on the big league 25-man roster.
In Anderson's major league debut, Wednesday afternoon, the young righty looked like he belonged with the big club, helping the Giants to defeat the Blue Jays 4-3. Navigating intermittent wildness, Shaun was able to avoid giving up big hits in key situations, holding the Toronto offense to three runs (two earned) over five innings of work. The rookie totaled 96 pitches in his debut, inflated by three walks issued, surrendering just two hits to Toronto batters and striking out five. He also lit it up at the plate, smashing a double on his first major league at-bat, and ultimately finishing the day going 2-for-2 with a single in the fourth.
Anderson exited after five, with the score tied 3-3, thanks in part to a two-run homer off the bat of fellow-rookie Aramis Garcia in the second. Manager Bruce Bochy handed the ball to his solid bullpen, beginning with Mark Melancon, who pitched a scoreless sixth. Brandon Crawford put the G-Men ahead with a solo homer in the bottom of the inning. Next, San Francisco received consecutive scoreless relief innings from both Sam Dyson and Tony Watson, preserving the 4-3 lead for closer Will Smith. Smith proceeded to strike out the side in the top of the ninth, recording his 11th save, and improving the Giants' record to 18-24.
With the season already looking like a bust, San Francisco's front office has a lot to think about in the coming weeks and months. They've already shown a willingness to promote well-deserving minor-leaguers and send-down or ship-out big league players who are underperforming. Their current mix of over-the-hill veterans and extremely green and often mediocre prospects has not worked out well, thus far. A decision will have to be made, as far as who to offer-up ahead of this summer's trade deadline and which minor league talents they'd like to take a good look at, up at the big league level.