Barber: Tyler Beede’s future in doubt as A’s pound Giants 9-5

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SAN FRANCISCO

Giants catcher Stephen Vogt spent a good portion of his media time defending Tyler Beede, the young pitcher who had taken the L in a 9-5 loss to the A’s on Wednesday afternoon. Pressed for some explanation of Beede’s recent streak of poor pitching, which has now reached five starts, Vogt tossed the media a small morsel.

“The only thing for me is that at times he has difficulty repeating his delivery and repeating the pitch,” Vogt said. “So just eliminating the non-competitive pitches out of the zone and getting back to just driving the ball through the strike zone. That’s really the inconsistency.”

It wasn’t much, as critiques go. But it’s an interesting observation when you compare it with this description of Beede: “… features a smooth delivery but struggles to repeat it with consistency.”

That was from a Bleacher Report scouting report from 2014, following Beede’s final season at Vanderbilt University.

The overall scouting report was positive, and the Giants’ internal grades must have been great, because they took Beede in the first round that year, at No. 14 overall. Everyone always loved his size — he’s 6-foot-3, 211 pounds — arm strength and comportment.

At one time, Beede was considered the top prospect in the Giants organization. As recently as 2016, he was ranked No. 2 in the system by MLB.com. But while 2014 MLB draft picks Aaron Nola, Kyle Freeland and Carlos Rodon have combined to win a total 111 games in the majors, Beede has won all of three. And Wednesday’s start at Oracle Park never looked like it was going to be the fourth.

By the time Beede left the game with a runner on first and none out in the fifth inning, he had thrown 80 pitches, yielded a home run and two doubles, and had hit two batters. His team trailed 4-0.

“With Beede, we’re just trying to get him over the hump here, as far as being consistent in executing of pitches,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “You know, it’s really good at times, and then it gets away from him a little bit. I mean, first inning. Gets a couple quick outs, 0-2 (to Matt Chapman, the third batter), then the next thing you know he’s at 20-something pitches.”

And down 1-0 after Chapman’s ferocious home run to the right side of center field. That ball left Chapman’s bat at 106 miles per hour and traveled 411 feet. Matt Olson’s third-inning double exited the zone at 108.4 mph. A couple of Oakland singles, by Olson and Stephen Piscotty, also broke the 100-mph barrier. In the fourth inning, three consecutive A’s hit the ball on the nose and right up the middle, including pitcher Homer Bailey. They were timing up Beede as if they were standing in a high school batting cage.

That is not an uncommon occurrence. Beede has made big strides with his control, a former weak spot. But he hasn’t been fooling many good hitters lately. He has now given up 17 home runs in fewer than 83 innings in 2019, and Giants fans are almost completely out of patience.

Beede, 26, had hoped to turn a corner this season, and for a while there it looked like he had. Between June 27 and July 19, which corresponded to the beginning of the Giants’ wondrous (if perhaps fleeting) turnaround, Beede made four starts, went 2-1 and posted a 2.00 ERA and a stellar WHIP (walks + hits per inning pitched) of 0.815; hitters had an embarrassing OPS of .542 during that span. In the four starts that followed, Beede went 0-3 with an 8.38 ERA and a WHIP of 2.017; opposing hitters’ OPS ballooned to 1.112.

And that was before Wednesday’s pounding by the A’s. On July 19, after Beede’s longest and most effective outing of the season against the Mets, his season ERA stood at 4.70. Now it’s 5.77.

So what the heck is wrong with Tyler Beede?

After the game, Beede, Bochy and Vogt all agreed that the pitcher’s “stuff” is just fine, that his velocity is good (he was mostly in the 93-mph range against the A’s), that he is able to command all of his pitches.

“He’s got some of the best stuff I’ve caught,” Vogt said.

One mistake Beede repeated Wednesday was failing to get ahead of batters. Too often, the A’s were creating favorable situations at the plate.

“Stuff’s there,” Beede said. “But the attack just wasn’t where it needed to be today, just in terms of getting ahead of guys —walks, pitches to bat counts and just giving them more chances to put the ball in play with hard contact.”

After five consecutive wretched starts and a failure to become a consistent starter for the Giants, you would assume that Beede is headed for a stint in Triple-A.

“Yeah, I don’t want to go into that, you know, right now,” Bochy said after the game when I asked him about Beede’s status in the rotation. “We’ll get together and talk about if we need to tweak anything. But as far as that, no, I don’t want to really discuss that at this point.”

Beede has two more minor-league options available to the Giants. But there’s a wider problem here: This team has a dire shortage of starting pitchers. Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija, San Francisco’s two healthy veterans, have been mowing through opponents. After that, it’s a mess. Shaun Anderson is on the injured list, and wasn’t all that great before he landed there. Connor Menez was recently demoted to Sacramento. Johnny Cueto is making great progress, but Bochy believes the rehabbing former All-Star will get four or five more minor-league starts before rejoining the MLB team.

Bochy needs long arms to fill the gaps, and his options aren’t great. Dereck Rodriguez, another 2019 disappointment, is expected to start at Arizona on Thursday, to begin an important series against a another playoff hopeful. Then it’ll be Samardzija on Friday. On Sunday it will be Bumgarner. Saturday? Bochy said it’s “TBD.” Unless Trevor Bauer’s Dog can give the skipper five innings, I believe that translates to “we have no idea.”

This is no way to stay in the thick of a wild-card race, and after Wednesday’s loss, the Giants are four games behind. It’s also no way for a young pitcher to prove that his time has come as an MLB starter. If Beede can’t harness his talent, he’ll be just another highly regarded young pitcher who never panned out.

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