The San Francisco Giants are facing many injury problems early in an MLB season once again, but the injured players aren’t just platoon-level players. Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Hunter Pence, Mark Melancon, and Joe Panik are all currently listed on the disabled list.
With a disabled list occupied with five keys players and a 2018 combined salary of $75.78 million for those five players, there is a lot of wasted money going around in San Francisco right now. To put that into perspective, the Arizona Diamondbacks entire lineup, when healthy, is $38.78 million and $72.28 million when Greinke starts.
Madison Bumgarner (Fractured Left Hand-$12M)
The Giant’s Ace, Madison Bumgarner, is still on the DL from breaking his hand late in Spring Training. Though Bumgarner is not the most expensive player, he is undoubtedly the best and most missed out of the five players on the DL.
With Bumgarner out, it almost feels as if there is no reason to even try. As seen in the 2017 season, the Giants are not the same without Bumgarner, and it is more than just Bumgarner’s skill they are missing.
Bumgarner is a horse, an ace, a leader, someone you want to lead you into battle. What Bumgarner did in the 2014 World Series shows you not just how skilled of a pitcher he is, but how amazing of a leader he is, all at the age of only 25 at the time.
If the Giants want to even think about making the playoffs, Bumgarner needs to return to the bump as soon as possible and be their captain back behind the wheel of the ship.
Johnny Cueto (Right Elbow Inflammation-$21.83M)
The most expensive and also very dearly missed, Johnny Cueto. Cueto currently has an ERA of 0.84 in 32 innings pitched. He is a stud and an almost guaranteed win when he has his stuff going.
The San Francisco Giants have always relied on pitching, especially since they are in one of the most “pitcher-friendly” ballparks in the MLB. Losing Cueto, along with Bumgarner, is a severe blow to the San Francisco style of winning.
Cueto should be on his way to another All-Star appearance in 2018 if he can stay healthy.
Hunter Pence (Right Thumb Sprain-$18.5M)
Even though Pence is a fan favorite, his bat not being in the lineup is not the worst. Pence has been a VIP member of San Francisco’s most affluent club for the past two seasons now. Going on the DL three times last season and two times in 2018 already.
The Giants have lacked offensive productivity from their outfielders for a few seasons now. Besides Pence, the only other significant outfield bat, the Giants, have had has been Melky Cabrera in 2012, who ended up getting caught with PEDs.
The Giants need an outfield bat, and it seems like they won’t be getting it from Hunter Pence in 2018. I wouldn’t be surprised if this were the last season we saw Pence in an MLB uniform, as his contract with the Giants ends after the 2018 season.
Mark Melancon (Right Elbow Flexor Strain-$20M)
This 2016 transaction was one Giants fans were very excited about, finally having an elite closer. Melancon’s time with San Francisco has been disappointing since his first appearance. Blowing a save on the 2017 Opening Day at Chase Field facing a Diamondbacks team that would go on to make the NLDS that season.
There is something about the Giants closing position in the bullpen, almost like a curse. The Giants have not had a reliable closer since Brian Wilson in 2010. They had Sergio Romo, but he was never really an outright closer, Romo was the perfect setup man.
But this is a position the Giants need desperately to be filled. Currently, the closer slot is occupied by Hunter Strickland. Most famous for fighting Bryce Harper, Strickland is a quality pitcher but very inconsistent, Strickland can strike out the side in order or give up two home runs on two pitches.
Joe Panik (Sprained Left Thumb-$3.45M)
The cheapest player of the five but undoubtedly one of the most missed is second baseman, Joe Panik. The 2015 All-Star and 2016 Gold Glove fielding second baseman, is out for six weeks after having thumb surgery on Monday, May 7th.
Panik started out red hot this season, hitting solo home runs off of both Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jenson. Those two solo shots were enough to have the Giants split their opening series against the Dodgers 2-2.
Panik is not as crucial of a piece for San Francisco as Bumgarner and Cueto, but the Giants lack depth. The current starting second baseman for the Giants is a rotation of Kelby Tomlinson and Alen Hanson. Tomlinson and Hanson have been mediocre but are getting the job done for now.
The Giants are going to need Panik’s bat in the lineup and his glove in the field if they want a possible playoff birth in 2018.
A lot of bad luck is hitting San Francisco early in 2018. All of these injuries typically do not conclude with a playoff run in an MLB season. It makes you wonder what the Giants will do at the end of 2018.
Assuming the Giants do no make the 2018 playoffs, what will Bobby Evans and the Giants Front Office do? Pull a Derek Jeter and gut the franchise for prospects and start the rebuilding process? Or go after big name free agents in the 2018-2019 like Bryce Harper, Josh Donaldson, or Manny Machado.
Only time will tell, and for now, Giants fans just need to mark their calendars for when their stars come off of the disabled list and hope that they can battle enough to stay in the conversation when everyone is back.
Kevin Hurley is a sophomore journalism student at Paradise Valley Community College writing MLB articles for The Sunrise Sports.