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San Francisco Giants: How the second-half bullpen audition impacts 2020

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 07: Catcher Stephen Vogt #21 and closing pitcher Jandel Gustave #74 of the San Francisco Giants celebrate after the last out in the MLB game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on September 07, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. The Giants defeated the Dodgers 1-0. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 07: Catcher Stephen Vogt #21 and closing pitcher Jandel Gustave #74 of the San Francisco Giants celebrate after the last out in the MLB game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on September 07, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. The Giants defeated the Dodgers 1-0. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) /
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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – AUGUST 20: Jandel Gustave #74 of the San Francisco Giants throws a pitch during the sixth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on August 20, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

There are very few locks in the 2020 bullpen for the San Francisco Giants.

Closer Will Smith is set to become a free agent at the end of this season. He’s had an impressive season that includes a 2.76 ERA to go along with 34 saves while pitching his way onto the National League All-Star team.

There will be no shortage of suitors for Smith’s services in free agency, and the Giants could certainly increase their leverage by tendering him a qualifying offer. Given that he may be the most expensive reliever on the free-agent market this winter, it seems possible that the Giants will look elsewhere to bolster their bullpen depth.

Behind Smith, Sam Coonrod, Jandel Gustave, Shaun Anderson, and Tyler Rogers all seem to be locked into spots on the 2020 roster.

Coonrod has looked good for much of the season. He has struggled in September, but this could be due to fatigue as this is his first full season back from Tommy John surgery.

Nonetheless, he has impressed to the tune of a 3.29 ERA in 27.1 innings of work. The 4.94 FIP is a bit concerning, but he has limited hard contact and given up only 18 hits since being called up.

Similar to Coonrod, Gustave recently recovered from Tommy John surgery. His repertoire features a 98 mph fastball that opposing hitters have struggled to barrel up.

Despite being brought in on a minor league contract, the hard-throwing righty has recorded a 1.96 ERA in 23 frames. If there is a red flag, it is that Gustave has only produced 12 strikeouts. Regardless, he has done enough to crack next year’s Opening Day bullpen.

Similar to many of his youthful teammates, Anderson struggled in his tryout as a starter this season. However, he has quickly separated himself after being sent to the bullpen. He’s seen a spike in his fastball velocity, which now sits at 95 mph. Since moving to the bullpen, Anderson has recorded a 3.55 ERA to go along with 14 strikeouts in 12.2 innings of work. His stuff is playing up and the results have followed.

Anderson is likely to start next season as a high-leverage reliever. Depending on the Giants offseason strategy, he could even be the team’s closer.

Lastly, no reliever has improved his stock as quickly as Rogers in such a short period of time. He has earned the trust of Giants manager Bruce Bochy, and Bochy has, in turn, rewarded Rogers by using him in high-leverage spots.

The submariner has appeared in 15 games and posted a 1.15 ERA in 15.2 innings of work. In addition to this, he has struck out 13 batters and yielded only nine hits, including zero home runs.

Like Anderson, Rogers should begin next season as a high-leverage reliever in the San Francisco Giants bullpen.

Those four pitchers seem to be penciled in as part of the 2020 relief corps. Others have a far more precarious situation.

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