The Giants announced their National League Division Series roster Friday morning, with first baseman Brandon Belt and right-hander Johnny Cueto representing the most notable omissions. Belt’s absence was entirely expected, as he sustained a fracture in his thumb less than two weeks ago — an injury that initially came with a roughly four-week recovery period. He’s hoping to be able to return if the Giants advance to the NLCS, though there’s no certainty he’ll be able to do so. Cueto’s omission is not injury-related, but he wasn’t slated to make a start in a best-of-five series so the Giants will instead opt for 14 position players and 12 pitchers.
Here’s the roster they’ll carry into their date with their archrival Dodgers…
There’s no sugar-coating what a tough loss it is for the Giants to be without Belt, who has not only enjoyed a resurgence but has produced at previously unforeseen levels during his age-32 and age-33 seasons. Dating back to Opening Day 2020, Belt has been the third-best hitter in all of baseball, by measure of wRC+ (163), trailing only Juan Soto and Bryce Harper in that time (min. 500 plate appearances). In his past 560 trips to the plate, Belt has turned in an outrageous .285/.393/.595 batting line and connected on 38 home runs and 27 doubles. Each of Flores, Ruf and Wade has seen time at first base for the Giants this season, and Bryant is certainly capable of slotting in at the position as well.
It’s possible that Cueto could be added back to the NLCS roster — a best-of-seven set that could include games on three consecutive days and thus increase the importance of adding some length to the pitching staff. While it hasn’t been one of Cueto’s best seasons, the 35-year-old posted solid results in 22 appearances (21 of them starts). The two-time All-Star and former Cy Young runner-up tallied 114 2/3 innings of 4.08 ERA ball with an even 20% strikeout rate and a very strong 6.1% walk rate. He’s in the final season of a six-year, $130M contract that contains a $22M club option with a $5M buyout.