SF Giants: Two Lefties are Carving out 2021 Roles in the Bullpen
By Jeff Young
The SF Giants bullpen has been inconsistent this season, but two left-handed hurlers have quickly emerged as bright spots in an inexperienced pen.
Sam Selman and Jarlin Garcia have anchored (alongside Tony Watson) the SF Giants bullpen from the left side. They both appear to be carving out roles for 2021 and beyond.
While the Giants have team control over all their relievers (except Watson) past this season, none of them have guaranteed contracts. Basically, the Giants are holding open auditions.
Neither Selman nor Garcia began the season on the roster, which is a shame because the way they’ve been pitching suggests they might have been able to help the team save some blown leads earlier in the years.
Selman’s career with the SF Giants thus far
Selman joined San Francisco on a minor league pact before the 2019 season and strung together an impressive minor league performance. He’d spent the offseason training at Driveline to maximize his fastball velocity and slider spin rate.
In 55 frames across two minor league levels, the southpaw posted a 2.29 ERA with 94 strikeouts. That was enough to earn Selman a cup of coffee with the Giants:
With the Giants, he appeared in ten games and recorded a 4.35 ERA along with ten strikeouts. The minor league success did not immediately translate to major league performance. However, a couple of really bad outings distorted his numbers a bit.
In a similarly small sample this year, Selman has produced much more favorable results. Across 12 innings, Selman has generated a 2.25 ERA with a 2.99 FIP. His line includes 15 punchouts and an impressive 31 percent strikeout rate.
The Giants do not have many arms who can rack up the strikeout totals like that, especially from the left side.
SF Giants claim Jarlin Garcia
Jarlin Garcia’s SF Giants tenure has also gotten off on the right foot. Surprisingly, Garcia was placed on waivers by the Miami Marlins before Spring Training got underway.
I say surprisingly because he posted a strong 3.02 ERA in 50.2 innings with the Marlins in 2019. He generated only 6.9 K/9, so there was some level of concern that he was not getting nearly enough swinging strikes despite flashing a mid-90’s fastball, but still, he appeared reasonably effective.
That worked to the Giants benefit.
Since being claimed by San Francisco, Garcia has completed 7.1 scoreless innings. Though, he has pitched through some traffic as he has yielded four hits and five walks to go along with only four strikeouts.
His 4.11 FIP is likely more indicative of his run-preventing ability than the 0.00 ERA he is currently sporting. But, baseball is funny like that sometimes.
Still, he is a lefty whose surface-level stats are good enough to earn a callback for the 2021 season.
Selman and Garcia are still swimming in small sample waters, so evaluating either is very much an incomplete picture.
On top of this, Garcia is controllable through the 2023 season and Selman is controllable through 2025. Neither one will likely be with the team through the end of their respective contracts, but the SF Giants are more focused on using the 2020 season as an audition for 2021.
Since the left side of a bullpen is usually a difficult area to fill, the Giants must like what they are seeing from a couple of their young lefties. With only one month remaining in the season, the audition for next year continues and Selmand and Garcia have risen to the challenge so far.