LOS ANGELES – Since the end of spring training when the Giants dropped a group of relief pitchers with major league experience from their opening day roster, the club has been chasing greatness in the bullpen.
Twenty-three pitchers have appeared as a relief for the Giants this season, and when the second half began on Friday in St. Louis, it looked as if Gabe Kapler had the club’s best possible bullpen combination available. And when five giant relievers combined to throw six innings of a hit ball in a 7-2 win at Dodger Stadium on Monday, it served as confirmation that the front office gathered a bullpen. Which could rival any major companies.
The numbers definitely suggest that the Giants’ bullpen is elite.
In addition to posting a fourth-place 3.38 bullpen ERA in the major leagues this season, the Giants have a 2.64 bullpen ERA as of June 1, the best mark of any major league club since that date. In the past seven weeks, his 2.16 walks per nine innings is the lowest of any bullpen and 0.66 home runs per nine innings the Giants reliever has surrendered and leads all major league clubs.
Most playoff contenders would have the type of bullpen the Giants have had for the past two months, but after an 8-6 loss to the Dodgers on Tuesday in which the club took a 6-1 fifth-innings lead, fans understand Troubled by the situation in the Giant’s Relief Corps.
Keep in mind, this is an incredibly knowledgeable fan base that saw the “Core Four”—Jeremy Effelt, Santiago Casilla, Javier López and Sergio Romo—each win three World Series rings under a manager in Bruce Bocchi who successfully navigated the Built on his legacy the postseason runs with superb late game decision making.
In other words, the bar is set too high for what makes a great bullpen, really, in the minds of Giants fans.
For a team that entered the 2021 season with relatively low expectations and now seems capable of scoring a deep October run, any bullpen hiccups – especially ones like the Giants Tuesday involved – are about to come under fire. .
So when Tyler Rogers watched Will Smith’s flyball climb left field at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, he asked the following question: Are the Giants still an arm away from greatness in the bullpen?
As right-hander Jack Littel surprisingly pointed out after Monday’s win, the Giants have the best “bang-for-your-buck” bullpen among the majors. Littel, Dominic Lyon and partner Wright Jay Jackson all signed minor league deals with the Giants this off-season. Lefty Jerlin Garcia was added to the exemption claim in February 2020. John Brebia cost $800,000 in free agency, while veteran Jose Alvarez’s deal set the Giants back a little more at $1.15 million. With Rogers earning less than $600,000, southpaw Jake McGee, the team leader in savings, is the only reliever to earn above $2 million.
Since June 1, McGee has made 16 consecutive no-scoring appearances and dismissed 14 batsmen, while allowing only nine baserunners.
McGee’s recent success and Rogers’ struggle against the Dodgers sparked widespread dismay when Kapler chose to use a lefty in the eighth inning on Tuesday and save Rogers in ninth. The move, though mildly surprising, is relatively consistent with the approach Kapler has taken with his top two high-leveraged arms this season.
Being in the eighth inning, the Dodgers had a pair of left wingers Zach McKinstry and Zach Rex, so Kapler sought platoon advantage using McGee. With right-hander Chris Taylor, who had already taken home twice, leading into ninth, Kapler turned to Rogers, who scored only four home runs in 89 2/3 innings that entered Tuesday’s game. were given.
Some nights, the best-laid plans don’t work out. On some nights, the most frequent strike-throwers in the big companies can’t find the zone. That’s what happened when Rogers went past the first two batsmen seen on nine pitches before giving Smith a three-run homer on a slider just above the heart of the plate.
It was unusual to see Rogers struggle so much with his command, but the loss was a reminder that the Giants have made 18 saves this season. So as good as the bullpen has been this year, it is possible that another quality hand will take the group to another level.
The challenge for Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and general manager Scott Harris is determining how the addition of another reliever will change the bullpen structure and whether it will make a high-profile move to make a high-profile move of potential capital before the trade deadline. Worth giving up.
Will the Giants’ front office target the Cubs closer to Craig Kimbrel, who owns a 0.52 ERA and is making $16 million this season? Doing so will move each reliever an innings forward as McGee and Rogers become set-up men while Lyon and Garcia can deliver quality mid-innings.
Or the Giants would prefer to trade for another set-up man who could replace Brabia, a promising right-hander who still has a minor league option available and struggled with inconsistent command in his return from Tommy John surgery. Used to be?
After dropping an RBI double and a home run on Tuesday, Brebia has now allowed at least one run in four of his last seven outings and tripled before the Giants consider bringing in a reliever from outside the organization. -A Sacramento can be headed.
It is still possible that the giants do not move past the trade deadline and continue to pursue their ideal bullpen composition from within. Left-hander Caleb Bargar has an ERA of 0.49 in 22 games this year, but a high WHIP and concerns about his control have kept him in Triple-A over the past two months. Prospects Camilo Doval and Kervin Castro have both been on the Giants’ radar over the past few months, and it’s not out of the question that each could join the 26-man roster down the right stretch.
The questions Zaydi and Harris are grappling with are not unlike the Giants’ bullpen that fans ask on a daily basis. Is this bullpen good enough to win a division? Is this bullpen enough to win the series in October? What’s the best way to improve the 2021 bullpen without sacrificing any meaningful part of the future?
These questions are the hard part to answer, but how they are answered will play a big part in determining how successful the veterans will be.