Mailbag: Why Gorkys Hernandez, not Steven Duggar, made the Giants' roster

Alex Pavlovic
NBC Sports BayArea

SAN FRANCISCO - This seems a good time to take a deep breath and remember that Neil Ramirez, Aaron Hill and Chris Marrero were on the opening day roster last season. 

(No offense, guys.)

For all the attention that's paid to the roster all spring, the actual 25-man group is pretty insignificant in certain respects. The Giants could make two bullpen changes by the end of the weekend, depending on how many innings the group needs to soak up at Dodger Stadium. It's not hard to picture Steven Duggar being back in two weeks, either, and by April 10, either Tyler Beede or Andrew Suarez should be in the rotation, leading to other changes. 

So, take a deep breath. And yes, I realize that the team that broke camp with those guys last year lost 98 games, but it wasn't because of the eighth reliever in the bullpen or fifth guy in the outfield. If the 2018 Giants lose 98 games, it won't be because of Roberto Gomez or Gorkys Hernandez. It will be because of starting pitching injuries, closer issues, the lineup not being what they thought, continued declines for stars, etc. etc. 

Having said that, a lot of you had questions about Tuesday's news. Here are some answers: 

Why Hernandez over Duggar??? - MANY people on Twitter. 

This is actually pretty cut and dry. Duggar was not competing to be the fifth outfielder, he was competing to be the starting center fielder. Austin Jackson was signed in part because he crushed left-handed starters last season. The Giants may face six left-handed starters in the first nine games of the season, and they have two off days mixed in, too.

There you go. 

So, Duggar will go down to Sacramento and play every day while Jackson will get the vast majority of the time in center over the first 11 days of the season. Hernandez seems slated for no more than five or six at-bats over that time, and that's not what the team wanted for Duggar given how much time he missed last season. 

Oh, and one last part of this: Bruce Bochy does not view Duggar as a platoon player. They believe he'll hit lefties and be their everyday center fielder in the future, but Jackson hit .352 against left-handed starters last year and he's going to get the first shot at Kershaw, Hill, Wood, etc.

I still believe Duggar will lead this team in center field starts this season. 

I have no idea how Kelby continues to make this team. He's fast I guess? He lacks just about everywhere else in his game. - @Arock49, via Twitter. 

Well first, that's not true. Tomlinson hit .295 as a pinch-hitter last season, and that's always helped keep him on the bench, along with his defensive versatility and speed. But more than that, while Josh Rutledge and Chase d'Arnaud showed flashes this spring, neither came in and outright shoved Tomlinson out of the way. Tomlinson was on the 40-man roster and the others were not, and in the end this had to be a pretty easy call. Inventory matters when you're setting your opening day roster. 

Dyson or Watson closing in place of Melancon? - @MatLab9, via Twitter. 

Melancon has not been put on the disabled list yet - he was set to play catch before the team flight to Los Angeles (on the field, not the tarmac) - but it seems headed that way. At the very least, Bochy won't be able to use Melancon as a normal closer for the time being, meaning he'll need another option if the Giants hold the lead in the ninth two or three days in a row. Dyson had a brutal spring but his stuff was much sharper Tuesday night, so I would expect him to be next in line. But if you're looking for a fantasy baseball sleeper, nobody had a better spring than Hunter Strickland, who posted a clean sheet while mixing in a new slider he learned from John Smoltz. If Melancon's issues last, I wouldn't be surprised to see Strickland move into that role. 

Doesn't this also help the Giants delay (Duggar's) free agent year? Kris Bryant was sent down in his rookie year to delay his free agent year. - @mike49er, via Twitter. 

Yes, it likely will. Some teams do this blatantly, like the Braves with Ronald Acuna, and if Duggar is in Triple-A until April 13 or so, it should limit his service time. Having said that, I don't think that came into play on this decision for one simple reason: The people who made it know that they very likely will be looking for new jobs if the Giants have another awful season. I have a hard time thinking Brian Sabean, Bobby Evans and Bruce Bochy are worried about what happens with Steven Duggar in 2024.

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