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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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San Francisco Giants
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 11: Kyle Barraclough #45 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the top of the eighth inning at Oracle Park on September 11, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Kyle Barraclough, Burch Smith, and Enderson Franco all appear to be on the bubble for a spot in the San Francisco Giants bullpen in 2020.

Barraclough is currently one of the more accomplished relievers in the Giants bullpen. He was cut loose by the Washington Nationals earlier this season after posting a 6.66 ERA in 25.2 frames. The Giants put in a claim on him with the hopes of working out his command issues and his potential upside is worth the risk.

Regardless, he has not pitched great in his short time with the Orange and Black. The 2.35 ERA in 7.2 innings of work looks great, but it comes with an unsightly 5.70 FIP. His command continues to be an issue as he has walked eight batters. On a positive note, he has struck out nine batters.

Given the fact that the current Giants bullpen has more questions than answers, Barraclough could be retained to continue working through his control problems.

Smith is in a similar boat. Like Barraclough, he has no problem generating strikeouts, but he struggles with knowing where his pitches are going. His audition has gone well. In a small sample of 7.2 innings, Smith has given up only one earned run and allowed only eight baserunners, including three by way of the walk.

The right-hander has worked as a starter and a reliever throughout his career, and this type of versatility is a quality that Zaidi covets.

It is a small sample with the team, and it should be noted that Smith has been far less effective in a much larger sample with three other teams. Despite this, he has pitched well enough in his audition to be retained next season.

If Zaidi continues to build up the bullpen depth, Smith could be pushed off the roster.

Lastly, Franco is with his fifth organization, and he made his major league debut just a couple of weeks ago. He has worked as a starter for much of his career, but the Giants have used him out of the bullpen.

Throughout his minor league career, Franco has posted a 4.57 ERA with only 688 strikeouts in 889.1 innings across 10 minor league seasons.

Those are not the type of stats that warrant a future roster spot, but he did strike out Nolan Arenado while facing the Colorado Rockies on Thursday, so perhaps we should be talking about signing him to a huge extension. More than likely, Franco is on the bubble heading into the offseason.

We’ve touched on the roster locks and the bubble guys. So who will be pitching elsewhere in 2020 among the current crop of reliever?

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