After a strong showing in the minors last year, Sam Selman could be an X-factor in a rebuilt San Francisco Giants bullpen in 2020.
The San Francisco Giants head into 2020 with a considerably weaker bullpen than they had in 2019, at least on paper.
Could Sam Selman be the X-factor who helps the relief corps exceed expectations?
The 29-year-old was signed as a minor league free agent last March after spending the first seven seasons of his professional career in the Kansas City Royals organization.
A brilliant season in the minors eventually earned him his first call-up and he made his MLB debut on Aug. 1, 2019.
He ended up making 10 appearances at the MLB level, posting a 4.35 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with 10 strikeouts in 10.2 innings.
However, it’s his minor league numbers that truly opened eyes and earned the attention of FanGraphs scribe and ZiPS projection author Dan Szymborski, who wrote:
“One bright spot is soft-tossing Sam Selman, who rode his nasty slider to the Pacific Coast League All-Star Game,” wrote Szymborski. “This was a tough year to survive in the PCL with Triple-A getting the major league rabbit ball, but Selman didn’t seem to notice. In fact, he was able to make significant progress on his command issues.”
The numbers for Triple-A Sacramento were indeed impressive as he logged a 2.06 ERA and 0.85 WHIP with an eye-popping 81 strikeouts in 48 innings.
He’ll enter camp competing for a roster spot, perhaps head-to-head with the recently acquired Jerry Blevins to address the need for a second left-hander alongside presumptive closer Tony Watson.
Szymborski wrote: “With Tony Watson likely closing, the Giants are shallow on lefties and given the choice, I’d rather see what Selman can do than Jerry Blevins.”
Should he break camp with a spot, the projections for his performance this coming season are extremely promising:
- 46 G, 3-2, 3.48 ERA, 32 BB, 75 K, 54.3 IP
Numbers like that would be a welcome addition to a bullpen that is going to need all of the help it can get in 2020, even if the 5.3 BB/9 walk rate is a bit concerning.
If Selman can maintain the control he found in the PCL, a breakout season could be forthcoming out of the Giants bullpen in 2020.