Here we go again. The SF Giants bullpen has posted a 6.08 ERA to start the year, which ranks as the third-worst mark in baseball. The bullpen was an obvious need in the offseason and the front office spent a lot of money to fix it, so how did we get here?
SF Giants bullpen is a complete disaster to start the year
We are 15 games into the season and it has quickly become apparent that Gabe Kapler just does not have the right touch on the pitching staff. Sure, in-game manangement has been a story early on but it is more than that. Personnel is an issue as well. Even the best bullpen manager would struggle with how this group is currently pitching.
And, it is has resulted in inconsistent maneuvers from the Giants manager. For example, the argument could be made that Logan Webb should have been pulled earlier in Monday's 4-3 loss against the Miami Marlins.
The righty had a 3-2 lead with runners on first base and third base and no outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. He induced a double play while keeping the runner at third base. It felt like he was going to evade a jam, but the very next hitter, Jorge Soler, slammed a two-run shot to give the Marlins a 4-3 lead. Kapler removed his starter immediately after that.
At times, we have seen Kapler have too quick of a hook. Other times, he leaves pitchers in there too long, but one thing is clear and it is that he just does not have any confidence in his bullpen. The Giants have blown several late leads and the bullpen has been at the center of many of these losses.
A discouraging sign is the fact that the bullpen nucleus consisting of John Brebbia, Camilo Doval, Scott Alexander, and Tyler Rogers is the same as it was at the end of last year. The other pitchers out of the bullpen includes Taylor Rogers, Ross Stripling, Jakob Junis, and Sean Hjelle.
Junis has been fantastic so far as he has posted a 2.70 ERA through three appearances. However, he is a bulk innings reliever. The righty is typically used when a starter has a shorter-than-expected start. Every team needs a bulk innings arm, but that reliever is not normally in the mix for late-game innings.
Rogers, Stripling, and Hjelle have been unplayable thus far. Stripling and Hjelle have experience out of the rotation, so it is a case of a square peg in a round hole. The Giants have two pitchers in the bullpen who do not have a ton of experience as leverage relievers and they are going through the growing pains of trying to carve out a role.
And, then there is Rogers. The left-handed reliever has been terrible at the start of his three-year, $33 million deal. Sure, he is a proven reliever, but he was coming off of a down year in 2022. Will he recover from a slow start? He has the track record but he has not looked good at all so far this year.
And, the Giants' bullpen composition has hamstrung Kapler at times. We saw it on Monday night. Would you rather let Webb blow the game? Or, do you want to see the bullpen try to save it when it has struggled so badly in the early going. It is a no-win proposition at the moment.
Where do they go from here? That is hard to say. The back-end of the 40-man roster is light on bullpen depth. Cole Waites could become an option soon. For one reason or another, the Giants just did not add any experienced bullpen arms on non-guaranteed deals.
They did plenty of that in 2021 when pitchers like Dominic Leone and Jay Jackson gave them quality innings after starting that season in the minors. They do not have any of those relievers in Triple-A at the moment. The slightly good news is that the bullpen is something that teams can fix during the season.
It does not always happen, but the Giants cannot let the status quo be with regards to the bullpen. It is an area of opportunity and anyone still looking for a chance to pitch should see the Giants as an open tryout.
If the bullpen is going to improve, the Giants are going to need to rely on more than just their core of bullpen arms. It has been a rough start to the season, but one of the issues have been identified. It is a matter of trying to fix it, which is easier said than done.