SF Giants lefty likely to miss start of the season after oblique strain

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The SF Giants' bullpen depth continues to be tested. Left-handed reliever Ethan Small is expected to miss several weeks with an oblique strain according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.

SF Giants lefty likely to miss start of the season after oblique strain

The news suggests that Small will likely not be ready for the start of the regular season. Opening Day is less than two weeks away, so he will not have a chance to get back on the mound and build up enough arm strength to be ready given the timeline of several weeks.

The Giants acquired Small in a minor trade with the Milwaukee Brewers in February. He yielded six earned runs in 5.2 frames in the Cactus League this spring. Unfortunately, one poor outing where he gave up five earned runs in two innings against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday really impacted what started out as a promising camp.

Prior to the injury, Small had a good chance of making the Opening Day roster. As currently constructed, Taylor Rogers is the only proven southpaw reliever in the bullpen. Small was competing with Erik Miller, Amir Garrett, and Juan Sanchez as a second lefty reliever in the bullpen.

Miller was optioned earlier this week, whereas Garrett has seemingly pitched his way out of the competition. The veteran pitcher has allowed six earned runs in 3.2 innings of work this spring.

On the other hand, Sanchez has positioned himself to be a candidate to break camp with the club. He came into spring training as a non-roster invitee and has allowed just one earned run with eight strikeouts against zero walks in six innings. Sanchez relies on a sinker-changeup combination but flashes a slider sporadically.

The front end of the Giants bullpen is relatively set in stone with Rogers, Tyler Rogers, Camilo Doval, Luke Jackson, and Ryan Walker. They will likely carry 13 pitchers, meaning that they can carry up to eight relievers with five starters.

That leaves three spots open in the bullpen and there just are not many relievers on the 40-man roster competing for a spot. Daulton Jefferies is in the mix as well as Spencer Howard. There is a good chance that the Giants fill those spots with multiple non-roster players.