Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

When the San Francisco Giants won three World Series rings under Bruce Bochy, they were carried by their pitching. Pre-Arizona Madison Bumgarner and two-time Cy Young-winner Tim Lincecum headlined rotations that just dominated in October.

The Giants are still known for their home-farmed pitching today. Logan Webb might be the best ace nobody knows. Camilo Doval is developing into a strong closer. San Francisco is even taking a big risk and trying to make longtime reliever Jordan Hicks a starter!

But baseball has evolved, and team president Farhan Zaidi knows this. The Giants ranked 24th in runs scored, 28th in batting average, and were fairly middling in all other categories. In turn, Zaidi boosted the lineup and signed veteran slugger Jorge Soler and Korean hitting sensation Jung-Hoo Lee, who was a .340 career hitter in KBO.

Granted, the Los Angeles Dodgers are the team to beat in the NL West, but we’ve discussed their suspect pitching. There is indeed an opportunity, albeit a very small one, for the San Francisco Giants to swing their way past LA and into the playoffs.

Greatest Addition: Bob Melvin. Forget all the player signings. Hiring Melvin was easily the best add the Giants made all winter. The veteran skipper spent the last two seasons with the Padres and has also managed in Arizona, Seattle, and Oakland. Melvin also spent three years of his playing career with the Giants.

That said, hiring Melvin doesn’t come without at least a little risk. There’s no doubt that despite the lack of deep playoff runs, he’s a good manager. However, he left a talented Padres team because AJ Preller continuously meddled in the clubhouse.

Meanwhile, Zaidi moved on from Melvin’s predecessor Gabe Kapler over a seeming inability to win despite clear roster shortcomings. The same Gabe Kapler who managed the Giants to 107 wins and never lost the clubhouse despite his dismissal.

It was because he couldn’t execute on Zaidi’s supposed vision. Will the veteran executive keep being hands-on or trust in Melvin’s instincts?

Greatest Loss: Sean Manaea. The big lefty had an up-and-down year in San Francisco, posting a 4.44 ERA in 37 games (10 starts). He struggled his way out of the rotation and then in the bullpen, but managed a 2.67 ERA in September after incorporating the sweeper into his pitch mix. This got him back in the starting rotation, and later a two-year deal with the Mets.

Despite these inconsistencies, the Giants really should have tried harder to keep Manaea. His deal was only for $28 million and San Francisco needs arms. All other spending aside, the budget easily could have been stretched to offer Manaea a similar deal.

Greatest Strength: Logan Webb. There’s nothing like watching a homegrown pitching prospect develop into a staff ace. Webb has thundered down this path and earned a five-year, $90 million extension that starts this year. Still only 27, the righty led MLB with 216 innings pitched and issued just 31 walks all season.

Webb gives up a lot of hard contact, but thankfully on the ground. He posted a groundball rate (GB%) of 62.1% and generates plenty of whiffs by mixing in a slider with his changeup and sinker. He’s the Giants’ unquestioned ace, however…

Greatest Weakness: Thin pitching behind Webb. For all of Webb’s talent on the mound, the Giants have a concerning lack of it behind him. The only other consistent starter in the rotation is 36-year-old Alex Cobb. Eleven different pitchers started games for the Giants besides the two of them.

Where is the rest of the rotation? Converting Hicks to being a starter is a fun idea, but he’s 0-4 with a 5.47 ERA in eight career starts, all in 2022. That leaves 22-year-old lefty Kyle Harrison, who made just seven starts last year.

Needless to say, Bob Melvin will have to get creative if he doesn’t want to overtax his bullpen.

Is the Giants’ lineup strong enough for a playoff spot? With a lineup this reloaded, how can it not be? Zaidi understands that until the pitching staff is restored, his San Francisco Giants need to score. Soler mashed 36 homers in Miami last year and AT&T Park favors right-handed hitters. Lee’s lefty bat, oppositely, should generate plenty of extra base hits.

In a way, the Giants are like their NL West rival Padres. They’re all bats with very suspect pitching. Whichever team takes more advantage of the Dodgers’ fragile rotation will play ball in October.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.