Is It Time to Freshen Up the San Francisco Giants’ Bullpen?


For the past half-decade, the San Francisco Giants‘ bread and butter has been timely hitting and pitching, with a solid bullpen. That bullpen, along with the starting rotation, has been a big part for the Giants’ three World Series championships. The group has been essentially the same, despite some interchanging of veterans.

This year, injuries to Jean Machi, Jeremy Affeldt, Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson, and Tim Lincecum have opened up some opportunities for some younger players in the Giants system, such as Chris Heston and Josh Osich. Both have been outstanding in their time with the ballclub. Heston has looked like the Giants’ second-best pitcher all season as a rookie, and Osich’s short stay had some life to it that generated buzz.

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Michael Broadway, another Giants’ minor league player who is in Sacramento right now, had some chances in the bullpen before the guys on the disabled list returned.

With these small opportunities, the Giants’ minor league system has shown what they are capable of despite the lack of respect from ESPN’s Keith Law, and other minor league experts out there.

Apr 6, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt against the Arizona Diamondbacks during opening day at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With Affeldt (36), Santiago Casilla (34), Ryan Vogelsong (38), and Javier Lopez (38) all over 34 years old, is it time to slowly let some of them go and get new blood in there?

In 2015, Affeldt, Machi, Yusmeiro Petit, and Sergio Romo have been the disappointments in the bullpen, as they have surrendered leads and have become predictable. The four each sport an ERA over 4.00. They have not contributed to a bullpen that has been desired by other teams since 2010. If it weren’t for George Kontos, Lopez, and Hunter Strickland, the bullpen would have been in the midst of a crisis.

Manager Bruce Bochy has a lot of confidence in his veterans, and highly favors them in the times of struggle, but at some point, he needs to re-evaluate. Bochy has something special going on in San Francisco that could be going on for awhile, and they would need to keep the momentum and ween out the weaklings, Even if it is his coveted veterans.

In the offseason, the Giants’ pitching staff should have a multiple spots opening up as Affeldt, Lincecum, Vogelsong, and Casilla, depending on a potential option, are free agents to be.  Next year, it allows open competition for Osich, Broadway, Strickland, and others.

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Not to mention the Giants also have Derek Law, who recently returnde from Tommy John surgery, and Steven Okert waiting in the wings.

With a plethora of bullpen options, and future starters who I did not list, Bochy has them knocking on the door waiting for their opportunity. The guys of age are the gatekeepers.

Currently sitting at 53-44, the Giants are in a comfortable situation as the wild card spots and the division lead are well within reach.

The bullpen is not entirely at fault for the Giants’ early season struggles, as the offense remained stagnant at times, but the offense now is pushing the pace for one of the best hitting teams in the league (minus the home run department). Affeldt was pitching hurt and velocity had been down. Finally healthy now, he could return to being the glue holding down the middle innings along with Lopez.

Machi was recently designated for assignment after struggling to pitch well and stay healthy.

Rosters are still set at 25-man rosters at the moment, but in the coming month, that number will soon expand and the Giants can call up the extra pitching that is currently being handcuffed in Sacramento and the rest of the farm system.

For Giants’ fans, the effort of the youngsters and rookies in the time of need should be much appreciated and respected. To remain focused and finding guys who can step up, has been an art and forte for the ball club.

The Giants may not need the big move at the deadline to the pitching staff. Maybe one more major league ready and dominant arm, such as a Aroldis Chapman can be looked at, but only for the right cost.

For the time being, Giants’ fans will have to get used to the current bullpen and hope father time in some of the arms can find life again, and push the Giants back into October baseball for the fourth time in the last six years. Then in the offseason, replacing some arms can be discussed.

Next: The Unraveling of Tim Lincecum