SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants aren’t making it easy on their young pitchers. Two days in a row, they trotted out a young starter making his Major League Baseball debut against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Each performed capably, each gave his team a chance to win. Both finished with no-decisions, a term that might also describe their immediate future.
Tuesday, it was Tyler Beede, in a game the Giants ultimately won in the bottom of the ninth inning on Andrew McCutchen’s walk-off hit. Wednesday it was Andrew Suarez’s turn. He exited in the top of the sixth inning to a standing ovation at AT&T Park — before a crowd that included his mom, grandmother and brothers — with the game tied 3-3.
“It was great,” Suarez said of the ovation. “I haven’t had one of those in … ever.” He laughed to hear himself say it.
An hour or so after Suarez tipped his cap, the Diamondbacks were putting the finishing touches on a 7-3 win. And now he joins Beede in The Great Waiting Room of Uncertainty. Take a number and wait for further instructions.
There were legitimate reasons to applaud the young lefthander. Suarez, 25, was perfect his first time through the order, setting down the first 10 D-backs he faced. He struck out seven batters in 5⅓ innings, walked nobody, gave up four hits and threw 62 strikes to just 21 balls.
“I thought he did a nice job pounding the strike zone,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after the game.
Veteran catcher Nick Hundley, who was behind the plate all afternoon with Buster Posey playing first base, was more effusive.
“I thought he threw the ball really well,” Hundley said. “Very composed, very aggressive. He challenged guys, throwing all three of his off-speed pitches for strikes when he wanted to. It was a very impressive debut. Bodes well for him.”
Beede’s arm is the one that everybody in the Giants organization has been watching and carefully curating. He hasn’t exactly been lights-out in the minor leagues. For example, he was 6-7 with a 4.39 ERA and 1.468 walks/hits per inning pitched at Triple-A Sacramento last year. But Beede was a No. 1 draft choice (No. 14 overall) in 2014. Baseball Prospectus listed him as the Giants’ No. 3 prospect — and No. 1 on the mound — in 2018.
Suarez’s pedigree is a notch below. He was a second-round draft pick (No. 61 overall) out of the University of Miami in 2015. He’s a prospect, for sure, but he didn’t appear to be on the fast track until Giants starting pitchers started to fall like bowling pins. Suarez’s major-league appearance, like Beede’s, was born of necessity.
It went well, though. It really did.
The book on Suarez says he’s a poised young pitcher who wields a solid fastball, slider and changeup, but doesn’t throw any of them with dominance. Great location with his pitches; can be knocked around a little bit. Facing down this division rival wasn’t an ideal first assignment.
“The Diamondbacks are notoriously tough on lefties,” Hundley noted.
Yet the game never felt too big for Suarez. As Hundley put it: “His life wasn’t overpowered by the moment. He looked like he’d been doing it a long time.”