Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The San Francisco Giants have been watching auditions for their bullpen all spring, with Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez the only locks, the other spots are all up for grabs. The battle for the long relief spot is perhaps the most intriguing, with Yusmeiro Petit, Edwin Escobar and David Huff all competing for spots.
Firstly, Yusmeiro Petit who was vastly considered the favourite entering into spring training after his impressive year filling in for the injured Ryan Vogelsong. He started 7 games down the stretch and compiled a respectable 3.56 ERA for the season, with a 1.18 WHIP and a winning record of 4-1.
However, Petit has been a complete disaster this spring. In four games, and 7 innings of work he has given up 15 hits and seven earned runs and compiled a rather awful 9.00 ERA and 2.28 WHIP. With the emergence of rookie Edwin Escobar, and David Huff arriving from the New York Yankees, what seemed a secure spot in the bullpen for Petit has been thrown up for grabs.
Young leftie, Escobar has catapulted himself onto the scene with an impressive spring thus far. In 4 games and 8.2 innings he has given up 8 walks and 6 hits whilst striking out 3 compiling a 5.19 ERA with a 1.61 WHIP. If the rookie southpaw can improve his walk rate, the Giants could have the answer to their long reliever void.
Largely considered the most polished Giants prospect, last season he played for San Jose in advanced class A and played some AA ball for the Richmond Flying Squirrels. Between the two sides he totalled a 2.80 ERA, 128 innings pitched with a 1.10 WHIP.
The final contender for the long relief spot is David Huff who was acquired from the Yankees for cash considerations after they designated him for assignment upon signing Masahiro Tanaka. In his career he has started 54 games and made 15 appearances from the bullpen and was ready to fight for the fifth spot in the Yankees rotation before being moved to San Francisco where he will now fight for a bullpen role.
He hasn’t had much spring action but in one game and 2.0 innings has a 4.50 ERA. His lack of involvement in spring action probably suggests the Giants verdict on him, and will likely start the season in AAA class Fresno. However, with two weeks of Spring ball still to play, he could potentially talk his way into the bullpen, but ultimately is in last place right now.
With Cactus League action nearing an end, Bruce Bochy will soon have to make a decision. Right now, Escobar has to be viewed the favourite, with Yusmeiro Petit a close second. Whatever happens, as seen last year, an injury can change the situation completely in an instant, and either of the three could be playing a key role in the bullpen or rotation.