The Giants released some bad news on Beede, indicating that an MRI shows he has a flexor strain and UCL Sprain in his right elbow. The Giants staff, according to the team, is currently gathering second opinions and will have more information later in the week.
Beede had been having an excellent spring, and many beat writers had him penciled in as the likely fifth starter in the Giants rotation behind Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Kevin Gausman, and Drew Smyly. Now, the start to his 2020 season remains unknown.
Tommy John surgery can happen in these cases, but not always. Sometimes pitchers can rehab and avoid surgery. Other surgeries may be an option. In a 2010-2014 study, 20% of MLB pitchers who have had a forearm flexor injury ended up having UCL reconstruction surgery within a year. The median DL time for that was 42 days.
Other cases don’t require surgery at all. Matt Cain had a flexor injury in Spring Training of 2015, but did not have surgery and came back on the mound in July. However, it should be noted that after that, he post his first ever ERA over 5.00 in his career, and continued to do so for the final three years of his career before retiring at 32.
Mark Melancon is another recent case of flexor injuries on the Giants. He was put on the Injured LIst with a flexor injury to start the season in 2018, although it was said it had bothered him in his terrible 2017 as well. Melancon did not have surgery, and returned in early June. Although he had some initial struggles within the first month of coming off the IL, he finished the season with a 3.23 ERA with 39 innings pitched.
With Beede out, it opens the door for other pitchers to step up. Top prospect Logan Webb is one pitcher who might be considered, although he’s given up two runs in 4.1 spring innings, with two hits allowed (including a home run), and four strikeouts against two walks. Derek Rodriguez is also on the list, who hasn’t given up any earned runs this spring in 2.2 innings, but has two unearned runs allowed on two hits, two walks, and three strikeouts.
A dark horse might be Andy Suarez, who worked primarily out of the bullpen in 2019, posting a 5.79 ERA in the Majors and a 5.73 ERA as a starter in the offense-friendly PCL that year. Suarez has started the spring strong, with his six strikeout in four innings among the team leaders, and just one hit and one walk allowed.
Enderson Franco, who was signed to the Giants as a minor league free agent before 2019 and made five major league appearances may also be considered. He had a 5.97 ERA in the PCL in 2019 as a starter, but he is unscored upon this spring. He has four strikeouts agains four hits and one walk in four spring innings.
Outside options may also be considered. The Giants signed former Athletics starter Trevor Cahill, who was more likely competing for a bullpen role. He has allowed two hits and a walk in 1.2 spring innings, and has three strikeouts, with two unearned runs.