Giants rotation could see two injury returns in near future

The Giants have suffered a tough run of injuries to their starting rotation of late and with six starters on the injured list only Logan Webb and Jordan Hicks are currently in the San Francisco rotation as true full-time starters, although Spencer Howard and Hayden Birdsong have filled in to allow the Giants to cobble together a four-man rotation. Fortunately, it appears that could be changing in the near future as Shayna Rubin of the San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier Saturday that southpaws Blake Snell and Kyle Harrison are both making progress towards returns from injuries.

Of the pair, Harrison appears to be closer to a return. The southpaw found himself shelved a little less than two weeks ago due to a right ankle sprain, although the issue proved minor enough that it appears he’ll be ready to return after something close to a minimum stay on the shelf. Per Rubin, the club’s current plan is for Harrison to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday before eyeing a start sometime during the club’s road trip against the Braves and Guardians that wraps up on July 8. That should leave the Giants to turn over the rotation just once more before Harrison rejoins the group.

After making seven starts with the club down the stretch last year, Harrison stepped into the club’s rotation on Opening Day this year alongside Webb, Hicks, Snell and Keaton Winn. The 22-year-old has generally performed decently in what will be his first full big league season with a roughly league average 3.96 ERA and matching 3.95 FIP through 77 1/3 inning of work spread across 14 starts. While the lefty has only struck out 20.6% of batters faced this year, he’s limited walks to a strong 6.7% clip while generating grounders at a decent 42.1% rate. While the lefty’s pedigree certainly suggests that he could take a step forward at some point, even that stable back-end production would be a huge boost to a San Francisco rotation that has gotten the second-fewest innings out of its starting rotation in the majors this year.

Snell, meanwhile, appears likely to rejoin the Giants after Harrison but has a more concrete plan for his return in place. Per Rubin, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is scheduled to make a final rehab start on Wednesday before rejoining the rotation on July 10 against the Blue Jays. After being limited to just six starts in the first half by multiple groin injuries while struggling to a 9.51 ERA and 4.63 FIP across those 23 2/3 innings of work when he was healthy enough to take the mound, both Snell and the Giants are surely hoping that the lefty can turn his season around when he returns to action.

While San Francisco must have been hoping for more when they inked Snell to a two-year, $62M contract back in March, it’s not at all difficult to imagine the southpaw, who boasts a 2.72 ERA and 3.17 FIP with a 31.7% strikeout rate in 56 starts from 2022-23, turning things around in the second half and helping to anchor the top of the Giants rotation alongside Webb. Given his tough start to the season, it’s nearly impossible to imagine Snell opting out of the second year of his deal at this point barring a sensational second half on the level of the one he enjoyed last year, when he posted a 1.43 ERA and 3.12 FIP in his final 15 starts of the season.

Meanwhile, veteran right-hander Alex Cobb is also working his way back from injury after undergoing hip surgery last offseason that delayed his start to the 2024 campaign. He was expected to rejoin the Giants at some point in May, but ended up halting his throwing program due to discomfort in his shoulder in the middle of last month. The righty finally appears poised to get into game action, however, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle noted Saturday afternoon that Cobb is set to make a rehab start with Single-A San Jose tomorrow.

That’s a key step for the 36-year-old as he looks to return to action for the Giants. The veteran righty has been a very valuable asset for the club in recent years when healthy enough to take the mound, pitching to a 3.80 ERA and a 3.41 FIP in 301 innings of work since the start of his Giants tenure back in 2022. He and veteran lefty Robbie Ray could both impact the club’s rotation at some point later this season, offering internal rotation depth as the season wears on and they get closer to returns from their respective injuries.

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