SF Giants: Its time to define roles for late-inning relievers

San Francisco Giants v Washington Nationals
San Francisco Giants v Washington Nationals / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

When the game comes down to the final few outs, it’s important to use your bullpen the right way. The SF Giants boast the best bullpen in baseball with a 1.71 ERA, but the high-leverage roles still seem fluid.  

SF Giants: Its time to define roles for late-inning relievers

Last season, the San Francisco Giants took the mix-and-match closer by committee approach and it worked out as the team reeled off a San Francisco franchise-record 107 wins. They used a combination of veteran Jake McGee with younger players Tyler Rogers and Camilo Doval

As the 2022 campaign has gotten underway, the Giants and manager Gabe Kapler have continued to use this method. One can make the argument that this has been working great to begin the season as well, with the Giants off to a nice start.  

However, as the season goes on, this team is going to need to figure out the all-important role of who the setup men are and who the guy is that will come in and lock it down in the ninth inning. It’s an imminent issue that will need to be figured out at some point, just as it was in 2021 when Doval emerged as the guy to close games. 

Like last season, I think it is time to give Doval the ninth inning. While Doval has yet to show as well as he did last season, he does have the best stuff of the three options. Once he gets right, he may go on a tear when it comes to closing out games. After all, Doval has converted 6 of his 10 save opportunities, dating back to last year. He also secured a victory in game three for the Giants had over the Dodgers in the National League Division Series. Though Doval has been a little rough when it comes to closing games, he has converted four of five save opportunities this season. It just hasn’t looked as good when it comes to the eye test. But the bottom line is that he has gotten the job done to date.   

When it comes to the setup role, this should depend more on the situation. For example, when facing a lineup that has left-handed batters due up, the inning should go to McGee. A team like the Dodgers comes to mind here because they have a plethora of left-handed bats in their lineup and this is where McGee shined last season as well. 

On the other hand, the Padres have more right-handed bats in their lineup. So this is where Rogers can be used. 

The Giants have the luxury of being able to shorten games if they have a lead heading to the seventh. With these three anchoring the bullpen, it really becomes a six-inning game. They just need those three to have more defined roles as to what is needed and things should go well.  

When something like this is a concern this early in the season, things aren’t going that bad. The Giants' 12-5 start is good enough to back that sentiment up.