Dereck Rodríguez was first called up by the Giants May 28 of last season and never looked back — until now.

In the wake of three consecutive troubling starts, the Giants optioned the right-hander to Triple-A Saturday, activating Erik Kratz from the 10-day injured list (left hamstring) to fill the vacated roster spot.

Rodríguez (3-5, 5.05 ERA) started the season looking much like the rookie of 2018 who finished with a 6-4 record, a 2.81 ERA and a 2.47 strikeout to walk ratio.

But his most recent three outings, culminating in Friday’s start against Cincinnati in which he allowed four runs (none earned) on five hits and four walks, represented a step back that concerned the Giants.

In 2019 he’s given up two home runs per nine innings, compared with 0.7 home runs per nine in 2018, and a 1.65 strikeout to walk ratio.

Skipper Bruce Bochy said he expects Rodríguez will come out of it with some work in Sacramento, though. He said:

“He’s gonna go down just to try to polish some things up and get that good command he normally has—what he had last year—back with all his pitches.”

The 26-year-old righty has walked four batters in each of his last three outings, something he did just once in 19 starts in 2018, a season in which he walked just 36 total batters over 118-1/3 innings.

After Friday night’s 7-0 defeat to the Reds, Rodríguez acknowledged his command wasn’t quite to his normal standards, though he felt it was an improvement over the two starts prior. He said:

“I feel like my command’s [been] a little bit off the past two outings, but you know, we’ll get there.”

Bochy said he expects Rodríguez won’t be in Sacramento long, but the Giants feel he needs a breather to return to form. He said:

“He got in a little rut there and, you know, we all hit bumps in the road. That’s all this is for him, he’ll be back up here [once he can] sharpen it up a little bit with the command.”

Drew Pomeranz (1-4, 5.93 ERA), who was placed on the 10-day IL Thursday with a left lat strain, will not be available to pitch in Rodríguez’s spot Wednesday against the Blue Jays, and there’s a strong possibility the Giants could recall rookie Tyler Beede (0-1, 18.69 ERA) for a spot start instead. Bochy said the team will announce the rotation for the next few days after Saturday’s game.

Bochy also announced that Buster Posey may have turned a corner since sustaining a concussion on a foul tip to the mask May 5 in Cincinnati. Bochy said:

“I talked to Buster, he really feels good today. He woke up and he says this is the best he’s felt [since the concussion], so that’s great news. It looks like he’s getting over the hump—knock on wood that continues.”

Brandon Belt will be available off the bench Saturday after being pulled in the ninth inning Friday on a double switch with right knee inflammation. Belt has had surgery on his right knee twice, most recently last July, but an MRI came back clean and Bochy said Belt is likely to start Sunday.

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