With still no return date for Marco Scutaro in sight and Giants second basemen hitting a repulsive .170/.262/.296 for the season, the decision was made to call up 2011 first-round pick Joe Panik prior to Saturday’s game against the Diamondbacks.
The 23-year-old Panik was having a fine season in Triple-A, hitting .321/.382/.447 with five homers and three steals in 293 at-bats. That’s a big improvement over last year’s .257/.333/.347 line from Double-A Richmond. Drafted as a shortstop, he became a second baseman last year, seeing only spot duty at his old position. This year, he had played 61 games at second and 10 at short in Triple-A.
Brandon Hicks has been the Giants’ primary second baseman with Scutaro sidelined due to back problems, starting 56 of the team’s 74 games at the position. However, he’s hitting just .172/.289/.339 overall. The Giants’ .558 OPS from second base is the fifth worst mark any team is getting from a position this year. The only positions worse are Padres second basemen (.451), Cardinals second basemen (.534), Rays catchers (.536) and Mets catchers (.555).
Cardinals right-hander Luke Weaver has been reassigned to the bullpen, manager Mike Shildt announced Sunday. Fellow righty Daniel Poncedeleon will take his spot in the rotation for the time being, though it’s still unclear whether Weaver’s demotion is a permanent one or not.
Still, it’s not the most surprising of moves, especially as the club advances toward a potential playoff berth in October. Weaver, 24, has struggled to find his groove this season after putting up a 6-11 record in 24 starts and a 4.67 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2018. During two of his last three outings in August, he was pulled before the fifth inning, citing mechanical issues with his delivery that may be impacting his fastball location and delivery and having an adverse effect on his results — and those of the team — as well.
Poncedeleon, on the other hand, appears primed to take on more responsibility following an impressive run with the Cardinals this summer. He maintained a sub-3.00 ERA through his first six appearances, issuing four runs, nine walks, and 10 strikeouts over 17 2/3 innings. While he hasn’t handled more than one start in the big leagues, his track record in the minors speaks to his ability to get consistent results on the mound: he went 9-3 in 17 starts at Triple-A Memphis with a 2.15 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 10.1 SO/9 across 92 innings. He’s scheduled to cover for Weaver on Tuesday against the Pirates and will presumably continue to pitch out of the rotation for the remaining six weeks of the season.