The San Francisco Giants need to focus on left-handed relief for Bochy’s sake
By Daniel Sperry
The San Francisco Giants have been discussing adding more outfielders. Gregor Blanco of course is the most recent, but according to some, they’re STILL looking for another outfielder. But that’s not really the greatest position of need right now.
The San Francisco Giants are doing it again. They’re ignoring an area of significant need and instead stockpiling on mediocre options to an area that was previously an area of need. The Giants did this last offseason with the infield for some reason, and ended up with the worst outfield in franchise history. They’re about to do that with the bullpen.
A hallmark of the Brian Sabean era was making sure that the bullpen was stocked full of consistent performers. After Brian Wilson‘s issues, they quickly moved on because he wasn’t reliable. While Sabean’s fingerprints are surely all over the Giants’ 2018 offseason, one part of his playbook seems to have been crumpled up and thrown in the trash.
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The bullpen last year was atrocious. They only had one left handed-reliever, until Ty Blach went to the rotation, then they had none. Zero, nada, zilch. Balance in the bullpen, and the ability to match pitcher-to-hitter is something that Bruce Bochy usually nails on the head.
With a heavy right-handed pen, and no real elite strikeout ability within that group, the bullpen flailed even worse than it did in 2017. Yeah, they didn’t rack up the blown save numbers, but if they could come in with a lead or clear base-paths, they might have been right up there with the 2016 squad.
Bobby Evans is hedging his bet, again, that the bullpen will figure itself out. That’s worrisome. Right now the lone left-handed reliever with legitimate big league experience, and success (because that usually matters, a lot), is Will Smith, who hasn’t pitched since last spring training and is coming back from Tommy John Surgery. Yikes.
What Evans has done in terms of handicapping what Bochy brings to the table is like the equivalent of taking away a jouster’s pole, and instead giving them a butter knife.
If the Giants are considering putting themselves over the Luxury Tax line and actually signing another centerfielder, or acquiring one via trade, then they should truly have no problem trying to get some left handed relief. Will they? I’m doubtful.
Bobby Evans has shown that he doesn’t really care about the bullpen. The one time he tried to address it, he screwed it up royally. With the opportunity to get Mark Melancon via trade, he failed to pull the trigger and opted for Will Smith. Woof.
It’s not his fault Melancon went south and Derek Law turned back into a pumpkin last year, but only one lefty reliever on the squad was stupid, so we can only cut him so much slack for that.
The lack of good bullpen play and inept compilation of talent in that group, may end up being the hallmark of the “Bobby Evans era.” If he doesn’t flip that around, his tenure will be nowhere near as successful as the Sabean era. The bullpen was a hallmark, and Bochy’s ability to manage it only amplified that as a strength.
For Evans to not give Bochy the correct bullpen tools handicaps how far this team can go if they turn it around at the plate this year. Bochy is a master at the craft of bullpen management. What Evans has done in terms of handicapping what Bochy brings to the table is like the equivalent of taking away a jouster’s pole, and instead giving them a butter knife.
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So who are some options still available for them to get some bullpen help?
- Tony Watson
- Career: 2.68 ERA, 1.086 WHIP, 7.9 k/9
- Robbie Ross
- Career: 3.92 ERA, 1.388 WHIP, 7.5 k/9
- Kevin Siegrist
- Career: 3.04 ERA, 1.217 WHIP, 10.5 k/9
All of these guys would be relatively cost-effective. And due to the small struggles last year for Siegrist and Ross, they could be even cheaper.
It can’t hurt to go after one of these three guys. That seems to be their mindset with the outfield. “It can’t hurt to have Gregor Blanco.” They need to flip that mindset to the bullpen. If they don’t, the bullpen could very well hinder their ability to turn things around in 2018.
Next: Giants bring back Blanco
That unit was miserable the last few years, and it will continue to be until Evans gives Bochy the right tools in the bullpen. Let him play his matchup game, because he gets it right 90% of the time. No more handicapping the things that made this club so good in the early part of this decade. The bullpen is now the area of need. So, the focus needs to be there, about three three weeks ago.