On Monday, April 2, new Fresno manager Dan Rohn announced his rotation. Most notable was when top prospect Tim Lincecum would make his Triple-A debut, and that longtime reliever Erick Threets would be a starter. What was overlooked, probably because it was simply expected, was that the #2 starter of the team would be Pat Misch.
But just three days later, Misch was coming in in relief. Another left-hander, Travis Blackley, would take Misch's place in the rotation.
Does this mean more than a simple change in roster roles?
Certainly, it's not unreasonable to simply dismiss the change on the acquisition of Blackley. Blackley was acquired less than 24 hours before Rohn's rotation announcement was published, and that could change things. But then, one has to ask, why would Blackley replace Misch, one of the most accomplished and higher-rated starters in the rotation. Why not replace longtime reliever Threets, or minor league veterans with less importance to the team like Matt Palmer or Matt Kinney?
The answer may be that it was an edict from the big league team. It's been suggested that the San Francisco Giants are at least making their interest known in seeing certain players or situations. And one of the Giants' biggest needs is the bullpen. That much has been clear since Spring Training, and it has become clearer in the past week of regular season games. And while the Grizzlies have several relievers that have had big league experience, they may be looking at Misch, the most mature left-hander at this level.
It also makes sense, since the Giants rotation is stocked, and if any openings would come about, at least two highly rated prospects (Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez) would appear to be ahead of Misch for those spots. Misch simply has nowhere to go, as a starter.
Misch got plenty of time relieving in the Arizona Fall League, and said he has adjusted to the role. To his credit, he has been spectacular in his two relief appearances so far, allowing just two hits and striking out eight in five innings of work.
So, should this sudden move indicate the Giants are looking at Misch to help relieve their relief problem? Absolutely. But it probably won't happen right away. But the more problems that occur in late innings in San Francisco, the more the team will consider Misch.
Player of the Week: Tim Lincecum
Fresno has had several candidates for this spot, but Lincecum has the buzz. His Triple-A debut was short (5 innings, 83 pitches), but successful, as he allowed no runs on two hits and three walks, while striking out eight.
However, it was Lincecum's first inning that was the most impressive. The first batter Lincecum faced got on thanks to an error, and Lincecum walked the next batter. Both advanced on a passed ball, and suddenly, Lincecum hadn't gotten a single Triple-A out and had runners on second and third.
Lincecum simply struck out the next two batters and got a ground ball to short to get out of the inning.
As much as Misch's move to the bullpen might indicate the Giants considering promoting him, if Lincecum has many more outings like this, the Giants simply won't be able to not promote him somehow.
By The Numbers: 1 2B, 1 HR
That was attached to Nate Schierholtz's name after each of the Grizzlies' first three games. Although the streak was broken in Sunday's fourth game, the results are very encouraging. Schierholtz went 7 for 12, and even after Sunday, his three doubles were part of a three way tie for most in the league. Through Sunday, he was the only Pacific Coast League player with multiple home runs.
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