Does SF Giants manager Bob Melvin have any confidence in a pair of high-priced relievers?

San Francisco Giants v Philadelphia Phillies
San Francisco Giants v Philadelphia Phillies / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

In Sunday's 5-4 loss against the Philadelphia Phillies, SF Giants manager Bob Melvin went with Taylor Rogers in the seventh inning in which the team was already behind. It was a similar story with Luke Jackson in Monday's 6-1 loss against the same team. What is Melvin's level of confidence in these two relievers?

Does SF Giants manager Bob Melvin have any confidence in a pair of high-priced relievers?

The Giants have one of the higher payrolls in baseball after an aggressive offseason. They committed approximately $218 million against the Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) last year as well. They have money to spend, but one area where they are normally reluctant is the bullpen.

Rogers and Jackson might be the exceptions. The Giants signed Rogers to a three-year, $33 million pact before the 2023 season. On the other hand, Jackson inked a two-year, $11.5 million pact in the same offseason after missing the entire 2022 season due to Tommy John surgery.

These signings were unusual moves by the front office given how frugal they had been when it comes to the bullpen. And, there is a good reason for that. Spending on the bullpen is a tough task and one that does not always yield the return on investment that the team would hope. When a high-priced reliever struggles again and again, it becomes a waste of a roster spot and a costly one.

Signing Jackson or Rogers are not exorbitant deals by any means. Oftentimes, high-leverage relievers earn in the range of what Rogers or Jackson are earning. The only problem with this is that they are not being used as high-leverage relievers right now.

A manager's confidence in a reliever is a fluid process throughout the year. One month, he has total confidence that the reliever will get through the tough part of the lineup, and the next month, he cannot buy an out.

Bob Melvin's confidence in either reliever seems to be relatively low at the moment. That could change with time. Rogers has a 3.65 ERA in 14 outings this year. ERA can be deceiving as Rogers has pitched much worse than that. His 5.01 FIP tells a truer story of how he has pitched.

The last tight spot he was used in, he failed badly. He came into the 10th inning of a tie game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The lefty pitcher was slated to face a trio of righty bats and allowed two home runs while collecting the loss. The situational lefty role no longer exists, so southpaw pitchers have to be able to get both lefties and righties out.

It was a tough spot to use Rogers, but Melvin did not have any better options. Rogers' usage for much of the season has been when the team is behind, or in lower-leverage spots. He has faced 50 hitters in 2024, 40 of which were when the team was behind. That type of usage does not scream confidence from the manager.

It is a similar story for Jackson. He has a 4.26 ERA in 7 outings but his strikeouts are down and he has been way too hittable. He is coming off of a year in which he tallied a 2.97 ERA in 33 outings. On the surface, that is solid. However, it just felt like he never truly became a cog in the bullpen.

The righty pitcher has faced 22 batters this season with 16 coming when the team is behind. When he has been used in higher-leverage spots, he has not performed. He has inherited four runners this season and allowed all four to score. On average, relievers allow 35 percent of inherited runners to score, but Jackson is well behind that mark. That will frustrate a pitching staff because that does not hurt his ERA.

The Giants had hoped that both would become leverage relievers, but that just has not been the case. You can tell who Melvin trusts. When the Giants are up, he will go to a combination of Ryan Walker, Tyler Rogers, and Camilo Doval. Erik Miller has quietly become the top lefty out of the bullpen. The Giants expected Taylor Rogers to assume that role.

Both Jackson and Rogers could just be off to slow starts. That said, the bullpen has a depth issue. They have quality relievers, but they just do not have enough to be a reliable unit at the moment. It is one of the reasons why the bullpen has struggled to the tune of a 5.04 ERA this season.

Currently, Melvin does not seem to have much confidence in a pair of high-priced relievers. That could change down the road and the Giants need it to if the bullpen is going to be successful.