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Giants: Sam Selman could be bullpen X-factor in 2020

Nick San Miguel
SF Giants post-prospects prospect pitcher Sam Selman. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
SF Giants post-prospects prospect pitcher Sam Selman. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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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.

https://twitter.com/SFGiants/status/1157006366050926592

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.

Next. 5 surprising takeaways from ZiPS projections

If Selman can maintain the control he found in the PCL, a breakout season could be forthcoming out of the Giants bullpen in 2020.

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