Set in Stone … barring injury, trade or drop off in performance:
Bruce Bochy likes to go into a season with a minimum of 11 pitchers, and usually 12. It will not be surprising if this season is no different. Kontos, Law, Smith and Strickland are the closest things to a sure thing to join Melancon as we can get heading into 2017.
It was crystal clear that with the struggles of the bullpen last year and the three veteran free agents not being re-signed, that the replacements for the pen were actually going to be more set roles for the young pitchers that remain.
Kontos has been with the Giants for five seasons, winning two World Series rings. Last season Kontos appeared in 57 games and pitched 53.1 innings. His 2.53 ERA was second on the team to Law’s 2.13 and his 1.163 WHIP was third in the bullpen behind Law and Strickland.
Law not only had the best ERA among the Giants relief pitchers, but he also led the team with a 2.53 FIP, 0.964 WHIP and 193 ERA+. Law looked to be the Giants future closer as he rose through the minor leagues, but Tommy John surgery hurt his progress. Now, after being the most consistent Giants reliever in 2016, Law may end up being a long term answer alongside Melancon at the end of the Giants pen.
Melancon nearly became a Giant at the trade deadline, but signed with the team in the offseason to be the team’s closer. He has earned 168 saves since 2011 for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals. After last year’s deadline that saw him traded to Washington, Melancon saved 17 games while maintaining a 1.82 ERA, 2.07 FIP, 0.809 WHIP and 232 ERA+.
Smith was acquired at the trade deadline from the Milwaukee Brewers. He only pitched 18.1 innings with the Giants in 2016, but he pitched well, earning a 2.95 ERA and 1.78 FIP.
Strickland led all relief pitchers in appearances in 2016 with 72 appearances as well as innings pitched out of the bullpen with 61.