The San Francisco Giants had a rough bullpen in 2016, and they thought one simple band-aid would fix that for 2017. That didn’t work out well.
The San Francisco Giants bullpen wasn’t improved in 2017, and relievers who plenty thought were going to be serious pieces going forward, faded. The Giants bullpen in 2016 had a 3.65 ERA, good for middle of the road in baseball in 2016. They even had a winning record in 2016, despite so many blown saves. So not too bad, right? Just add an elite closer and problem solved?
While the bullpen wasn’t the only problem the Giants had in 2017, it still was a big one. After letting multiple seasoned relievers walk, and simply just signing a random closer, the Giants bullpen in 2017 was worse than the one in 2016. Less blown saves! But overall they were worse as a unit.
The Giants ERA in 2017 ballooned to a 4.34 in 2017, and the amount of games they were on the hook for the loss for was just about as many as last season. Again, that’s without all the blown saves. They had one of the lowest strikeout rates, and highest walk rates of any bullpen unit in 2017 as well. The one odd thing about them? Best HR rate in the league for a bullpen, and had the best fly ball out to homer ratio in the league as well. You can thank AT&T Park for that.
So what do the Giants need to do to get their bullpen back up to snuff for 2017? Well first off, they need to get guys who strike people out. No more of this “pitch to contact” thing when you have one of the worst outfield defenses in baseball. They also need to be a lot more flexible in terms of righty/lefty match-ups.
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The only lefty relievers to appear for the Giants in 2017 were Josh Osich and Steven Okert. After that, the only other lefties who showed up in relief appearances were Ty Blach (10 appearances) who also started 24 games, and Matt Moore who made one relief appearance. That’s it. Blach had the lowest ERA of those four, with 4.78. THAT’S REALLY BAD!
There are a few lefty relievers available in free agency, and it’s certainly possible to acquire one via trade. But the Giants absolutely have to pull the trigger on a few of them, at least one. Ty Blach is certainly an option in the future, and it’s a tossup between Okert and Osich for another.
Here are a few of the better lefty relief options on the market:
- Mike Minor
- Career: 3.93 ERA, 1.239 WHIP (Including 110 career starts)
- 2017: 2.55 ERA, 1.017 WHIP (All in relief)
- Jake McGee
- Career: 3.15 ERA, 1.100 WHIP
- 2017: 3.61 ERA, 1.099 WHIP
With the additions of at least one of those three, you’re looking at a potential bullpen of:
- Ty Blach, LHP
- (Maybe) Will Smith, LHP or Kyle Crick RHP
- Mark Melancon, RHP
- Sam Dyson, RHP
- Corey Gearrin, RHP
- LEFTY FA ADDITION
That would actually not be too bad of a bullpen. Depending on what happens with Smith, the Giants could easily throw Kyle Crick into the mix as well, who did very well in relief towards the end of the season.
We’ll see what happens in the Giants’ attempt to land Stanton. If they do, they likely could only afford one of these additions, especially with their other needs to be kept in mind. But if they don;t land Stanton, a serious attempt at at-least two of those three would be nice for the Giants. They need lefty relief badly, and any one of those three can help fill that need.