How Tony Watson’s injury impacts Giants closer competition

Giants reliever Tony Watson. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Giants reliever Tony Watson. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

With San Francisco Giants reliever Tony Watson currently dealing with shoulder tightness, the team’s closer competition is now wide open.

Veteran left-hander Tony Watson has yet to pitch for the San Francisco Giants in spring training because of tightness in his left shoulder.

It was widely assumed that he would begin the 2020 season as the team’s closer, but that could change as a result of the injury.

The 34-year-old is still expected to be ready for the season opener, but if he is not able to adequately prepare for the upcoming season this spring, can the Giants really trust him to be an effective closer?

Unless he rebounds quickly and shows there are no lingering effects, the answer may be no.

There is not a clear favorite for the closer’s role if Watson is not ready to go. The race for bullpen spots is wide open, and outside of Watson the team does not currently have anyone with meaningful experience closing games.

So who could the team turn to if Watson is not ready to go at the beginning of the season?

One option is Tyler Rogers.

His submarine delivery made him effective in his MLB debut with the Giants last year. He recorded a 1.02 ERA in 17.2 innings with an impressive 0.85 WHIP. That was obviously a small sample size, but his performance thus far in spring training suggests last year wasn’t a fluke.

In three innings, he has not allowed a single run, striking out four and only allowing one base hit. If the Giants wind up desperate for a ninth-inning man, then perhaps Rogers could fill the role to begin the year.

There are other options as well like Shaun AndersonTrevor Gott and Sam Coonrod, but it remains to be seen if the Giants will even name a closer going into the year. The thought of a closer-by-committee to begin the year is a scary one, but with the current state of the bullpen, it might be the best choice.

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Ideally, Watson will be good to go and the closer’s job will be his on Opening Day. if not, the competition for the closer’s role will be one to monitor closely the rest of the spring.