The SF Giants have quietly put together one of the better bullpens as their 3.28 ERA ranks as the fifth-best mark in baseball. That said, one more veteran reliever could be quickly pushing for a promotion.
SF Giants: Is this reliever the next to earn a promotion?
The current iteration of the Giants bullpen has been constructed by a bevy of minor league deals (Dominic Leone, Zack Littell, Jimmie Sherfy), a trio of guaranteed contracts (Jake McGee, José Álvarez, and John Brebbia), a waiver claim (Jarlin García), and a mid-level draft pick (Tyler Rogers). One more minor league signing could be waiting in the wings in Jay Jackson.
Jackson signed with San Francisco on a minor league pact with an invite to spring training this past winter. It was a move that did not get a lot of attention. After all, the right-handed hurler has pitched to a 4.67 ERA ( 4.33 FIP) in 34.1 innings split between the San Diego Padres (2015) and the Milwaukee Brewers (2019). These are not the type of numbers that generate a lot of excitement.
While his run-prevention ability is not all that encouraging, there are some favorable underlying trends. For starters, Jackon’s fastball velocity sat comfortably in the mid-90’s with an above-average spin rate.
Furthermore, his slider was a tough pitch to hit in the majors as opposing hitters struggled to the tune of a .176 batting average against it. Not surprisingly, the 33-year-old has gotten plenty of swinging strikes as he has struck out 33.5 percent of the batters he has faced.
However, he has struggled to command his pitches and gives up free passes at too high of a frequency. The Giants are hoping that if he can improve his command, then he could become a reliable bullpen option.
Jackson sustained a leg injury earlier in the year that prevented him from game action until recently. He was then assigned to Triple-A and the results have been encouraging. In five scoreless innings, he has struck out nine batters while allowing two hits and no walks. That last number is the one that stands out.
His 2021 season is off to a good start. If he does make an appearance with the Giants, it likely means that the bullpen depth has taken a considerable hit. The front office anticipates this and that is why they have added several intriguing arms such as Jackson. The hard-throwing righty is quietly performing well, waiting for his next opportunity to help a major league club.