The SF Giants boast the best bullpen in baseball with a 3.09 ERA. With the playoffs right around the corner, the bullpen is mostly set in stone. That said, there is an opportunity for one more intriguing arm to make the cut.
SF Giants: Hard-throwing reliever could be key in playoffs
That intriguing arm is Camilo Doval. The assumption is that the Giants carry 13 pitchers into a playoff series and that will likely consist of four starters and nine relievers. As currently constructed, the four starters will include Logan Webb, Kevin Gausman, Anthony DeSclafani, and Alex Wood. If Johnny Cueto returns, he could be a candidate as well.
That leaves nine relievers. This will almost certainly include Jake McGee (if healthy), Tyler Rogers, Dominic Leone, Tony Watson, Jarlin García, José Álvarez, and Zack Littell. José Quintana could serve in a bulk innings role, leaving one spot available.
Jay Jackson has had a nice season and he is deserving of consideration for the postseason roster, but Camilo Doval should get the final spot.
On this surface, the rookie reliever has not had a good season. He has registered a 4.42 ERA, 5.02 FIP, 1.255 WHIP, 11.8 K/9, and a 2.67 SO/W ratio across 18.1 frames with the Giants in 2021. His minor league numbers are not any better, posting a 4.99 ERA with 44 strikeouts and 24 walks in 30.2 Triple-A innings.
That said, evaluating a reliever based on Triple-A numbers is often difficult because the league leans pretty heavily in favor of the hitter.
Especially with playoff roster spots, it is not necessarily how a player has performed throughout the entire season, Rather, it can be based on who is performing the best heading into the postseason. There is a case to be made that Doval has been one of the Giants’ best relievers over the past couple of weeks.
Since being recalled from Triple-A, the 24-year-old has completed 5.2 scoreless frames with seven strikeouts against three walks. The command continues to be an issue, but there is no doubting his ability to get swinging strikes. Plus, the righty features a high-spin, power fastball that he pairs with a quality slider.
While the Giants bullpen has excelled in many areas, they just do not have a reliever who brings that type of velocity to the table. Though, his command is subpar, he has a pretty good margin of error given the quality of his repertoire.
The Giants have much of the postseason roster set in stone, but there is still an opportunity for one or two players to make the cut with a strong finish. Doval is in the mix as he would be a unique weapon out of the bullpen and he has performed well since being recalled. The hard-throwing reliever gives opposing hitters a different look that no one else in the bullpen can effectively replicate.