The San Francisco Giants are still looking for a closer. Could Shaun Anderson be a viable in-house option for the ninth-inning role?
The San Francisco Giants have not yet signed a free-agent reliever to replace Will Smith in the closer role. If they fail to make a significant outside addition, Shaun Anderson is someone to watch among the incumbent options.
As a rookie last season, Anderson was used primarily as a starter, but he did not shine in that role.
He remained in the rotation into August, recording a 5.33 ERA in 82.2 innings over 16 starts before he was moved to the bullpen.
Upon transitioning to the bullpen, he started to see better results, and he recorded his first career save against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sept. 10. Three days later, he closed out another win against the Miami Marlins.
That was enough to create some buzz that he could be the closer of the future.
He has experience in the ninth-inning role dating back to his time at the University of Florida. During his junior season in 2016, he saved 13 games with a 0.97 ERA and 11.7 K/9 in 36 appearances.
Things ended on a rocky not in 2019, though, as he surrendered six earned runs over his final four innings pitched. Definitely not a good way to end the year when you’re auditioning for key role on next year’s team.
As Bryan Murphy of McCovey Chronicles wrote: “He lost a rotation spot and closer job in the same year.”
It was not exactly a confidence-building year for Anderson, but maybe the new coaching staff can help him get back on track with his development.
Depending on how things work out next season, the Giants could end up trying out a lot of different guys in the closer role. While Tony Watson may currently be the favorite for the job, his stuff was not as sharp last season and he may not last long in the ninth inning.
First things first, Anderson needs to earn a roster spot this spring. But if he shows that he can be a valuable piece of the bullpen, then perhaps somewhere down the line he could be turned to in save opportunities.