The Giants will be without one of their key relievers for at least two weeks after putting Derek Law on the disabled list with a right elbow strain Sunday.
Manager Bruce Bochy said the Giants are concerned about a recent dip in Law’s velocity. Law, who threw a scoreless inning in the Giants’ 3-1 loss Saturday night, had an MRI Sunday morning. The Giants were waiting for the results when Bochy addressed reporters.
“He hasn’t been feeling pain, so to speak, (and) actually today said he feels a lot better,” said Bochy. “He just felt like he couldn’t get the extension that he normally did. So we’re going to be cautious here.”
The Giants have reasons to be cautious. The 25-year-old Law had Tommy John surgery, reconstructing a ligament in the elbow, in 2014. Also, Law was having a breakout rookie season with a 1.94 ERA in 53 appearances, and the Giants have no desire to jeopardize his future.
According to Brooks Baseball data, Law’s average fastball velocity this month of 92.9 mph is his lowest of the season, down from 93.9 mph in July and 94.8 mph in June.
The terminology of Law’s injury is important. The Giants are calling it a strain, which is an injury to a muscle or tendon, as opposed to a sprain, which would involve a ligament. Bochy, though, said he could not be specific until receiving the results of the MRI.
“That’s why we’re getting this MRI, to cover ourselves, and cover him and give him the peace of mind,” Bochy said. “It could be fatigue. We don’t know.”
The Giants activated outfielder Jarrett Parker to take Law’s roster spot. Parker is in the lineup Sunday playing right field, as Hunter Pence is out for a third straight game with hamstring soreness.
Bochy said an MRI on Pence “came out pretty clean.” The Giants still hope Pence, who was available to pinch hit Saturday night, will return to the lineup Tuesday against the Diamondbacks.
Also discussed Sunday morning was how the Giants will handle their fifth rotation spot in September.
Jake Peavy was placed on the disabled list with a lower back strain Saturday, before a game he had been scheduled to start. Albert Suarez took his place and allowed three runs over 4 1/3 innings. Matt Cain had been expected to return to the rotation in Chicago. But Cain allowed six runs (four earned) and 10 hits in five innings with the River Cats. Bochy said Sunday the starter for Friday against the Cubs is now “TBA.”
“Matty was OK,” Bochy said of Cain’s rehab outing. “They made a costly error, dropped a fly ball that I think cost him three runs. But he felt fine, healthy. He gave up some hits and runs. But he got his pitches in and we have looked at it, and the most important thing is he threw strikes and he felt fine.”
Bochy said the Giants will “wait and see” before choosing a fifth starter. He said the Giants could even rotate starters based on matchups against certain teams. Expanded rosters in September would allow them that luxury. Along with the previously mentioned candidates, Bochy said the Giants could expand the pool to pitchers currently at Triple A, such as Ty Blach or Clayton Blackburn.
“Blach’s been throwing the ball well,” Bochy said. “These are things we’re talking about now.”