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SF Giants: Polarizing Reliever Signs with Tampa Bay Rays

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 27: Hunter Strickland #60 of the San Francisco Giants points to catcher Nick Hundley #5 after they beat the Arizona Diamondbacks at AT&T Park on August 27, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 27: Hunter Strickland #60 of the San Francisco Giants points to catcher Nick Hundley #5 after they beat the Arizona Diamondbacks at AT&T Park on August 27, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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SF Giants
LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 17: Nick Hundley #5 of the San Francisco Giants shakes hands with Hunter Strickland #60 of the San Francisco Giants after the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on June 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. The Giants won 4-1. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Rays bolstered bullpen depth on Monday by signing a former SF Giants reliever and polarizing figure.

Former SF Giants righty Hunter Strickland signed a minor-league deal with an invite to Spring Training, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Former SF Giants reliever signs with Tampa Bay Rays

Strickland has been making his way around the major-league circuit since his Giants tenure ended as this will be his fourth organization over the last three seasons. He pitched for the Seattle Mariners in 2019 before being shipped to Washington Nationals at the trade deadline. The Nationals would go on to win the World Series. He also appeared briefly with the New York Mets in 2020.

In seven major league seasons, the hard-throwing arm has registered a 3.23 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 1.20 WHIP, 8.3 K/9, and a solid 2.65 SO/W ratio with 21 saves. In five seasons with San Francisco, he was even better than that as he posted a 2.91 ERA in five seasons.

When he debuted with the Giants at the end of 2014, he flashed a fastball that sat comfortably in the high-90’s. He made nine scoreless appearances in September of that year, which was enough to be included in the playoff roster.

Since then, the righty continues to boast a fastball that sits in the mid-90’s, but it is not what it once was.

Despite his solid numbers with the Giants, Strickland did not exactly endear himself to the fan base. Fans remember his struggles in the 2014 playoffs where he yielded six home runs in eight appearances, including two against Bryce Harper in the NLDS.

With the second home run, Harper and Strickland had a tense staredown as the batter rounded the bases. Harper may have been too animated during his run around the bases, and Strickland took exception to it.

Of course, the personal vendetta did not end there. Three years later, Strickland threw a pitch that hit Harper in his left hip. Harper then proceeded to chuck his helmet at the reliever while charging the mound:

Both players were suspended and the feud seemingly ended that day. However, Strickland’s antics continued into 2018. After blowing a save against the Miami Marlins in June, Strickland broke his hand after punching a door that put him on the shelf for two months. He struggled badly in his return and his Giants tenure came to an end in that offseason after they decided to non-tender him.

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In fairness to Strickland, he did put up solid numbers with the Orange and Black. He had some pretty bad blowups during the time as well. Both statements can be true. Tampa Bay is bringing him on with a chance to make the roster, and hopefully, he can regain some of the effectiveness that made him a good reliever earlier in his career.

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