Top 3 SF Giants questions that need to be answered in spring training
3. Who is the final reliever in the SF Giants bullpen?
Assuming that the Giants carry eight relievers to begin the season, they should have one spot that is open. Luke Jackson is expected to begin the season on the injured last after undergoing Tommy John Surgery in April of last season.
The Giants added Taylor Rogers on a three-year, $33 million pact. The left-handed hurler has experience at closer, but the Giants already have a legitimate closer in Camilo Doval. Rogers should still appear in high-leverage situations, but it will likely not be in the ninth inning.
Doval and Rogers join a group that includes Tyler Rogers, John Brebbia, Thomas Szapucki, Scott Alexander, and Jakob Junis. If the rotation deals with multiple injuries, then Junis could swing back over there but he is expected to begin the season in the bullpen.
That gives the Giants seven relievers with one open spot. The Giants have several inexperienced options on the 40-man roster including Randy Rodriguez, Jose Cruz, Keaton Winn. However, Cole Waites likely has an inside track for that final spot.
Waites is the first draft pick since Farhan Zaidi took over as president of baseball operations to reach the majors with the Giants. The right-handed reliever flashed a mid 90's fastball with good spin and a quality slider.
He was nearly unhittable in the minors, posting a 1.94 ERA with 76 strikeouts in 41.2 innings before earning a promotion to the major league roster. In his brief stint, Waites allowed just two earned runs with four strikeouts and four walks in seven outings for the Giants.
Control has been an issue for Waites as a minor leaguer, but he has offset that with stellar strikeout numbers (16.8 K/9) in three seasons. He is not a leverage reliever yet, but if his control improves, he could quickly begin to earn leverage oportunities.
There are a lot of quality relievers remaining on the market such as Andrew Chafin and Will Smith that I think the Giants could still make one more addition to the bullpen via free agency. If not, a strong camp by Waites should land him a spot on the Opening Day roster.