San Francisco Giants: Let’s Give Another Castoff Reliever A Chance

ST LOUIS, MO - APRIL 19: Kevin Siegrist
ST LOUIS, MO - APRIL 19: Kevin Siegrist /

After the extreme turnaround that one reliever went through after joining the San Francisco Giants, they should give another castoff pitcher a chance.

Kevin Siegrist turned himself into a supremely reliable reliever with the St. Louis Cardinals, but this season hasn’t been the same. The Cardinals designated the left-handed hurler for assignment, and the San Francisco Giants should be very interested.

Earlier in the day on Thursday, the Cardinals activated Siegrist from the 10-day disabled list after fighting through left forearm tendinitis. Rather than let him get back on the mound and see if he could turn his disappointing season around, the Cardinals instead designated him. Entering the season’s final month, St. Louis is down in the standings (six games back in the Central, 5.5 back in the widlcard), but not out of the race.

If the Giants do get Siegrist, it will be an extremely similar situation to the one they found themselves in earlier this season. When the Texas Rangers designated right-handed reliever Sam Dyson for assignment, the Giants took the flyer. Dyson was pitching well below his usual standards, posting a 10.80 ERA and 2.580 WHIP while striking out only seven batters in 16.2 innings and giving up six long balls. His walk-rate was nearly double his career rate at 6.5 per nine innings, compared to a 3.4 rate throughout his big league life.

Since joining the Giants, Dyson has become one of the biggest bright spots in an otherwise terribly disappointing season. His ERA is 2.22 and WHIP is 1.271 in 27 games, and he’s saved 12 games in 13 chances while Mark Melancon has struggled with health. His walks are still a bit up (4.4 per nine), but he’s been able to counteract that with a strong 67.1 percent groundball rate and 27.7 percent soft contact rate.

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Siegrist was one of the top left-handed relief options in baseball from 2015 to 2016, posting a 2.44 ERA and 1.137 WHIP while striking out 10.3 batters per nine innings in 148 appearances for the Cardinals. This year, his ERA and WHIP have spiked to 4.98 and 1.602, respectively, and he’s walking batters at a career-high 5.2 per nine innings rate. He is still getting strikeouts at a respectable rate (9.4 per nine), but his velocity is down a tick from previous years.

The Giants have an obvious need for left-handed relief. With Will Smith missing the entire season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery in Spring Training, the team has turned to Josh Osich and Steven Okert and neither has been able to consistently answer the call.

Osich showed some flashes in the middle of the season, but hasn’t been able to consistently put things together. He’s posted a 5.87 ERA and 1.696 WHIP, and is walking 5.9 batters per nine. He’s getting more strikeouts this season (35 in 38.1 innings), but it hasn’t been enough to counteract the control problems. When he can make lefties swing the bat, they are hitting .219 off the southpaw reliever. The problem is that they own a .359 on-base percentage because Osich has given up 14 walks in 79 plate appearances to southpaws.

Okert started the year strong upon his first call-up, but that momentum didn’t last long. His ERA and WHIP sit at 6.75 and 1.500, respectively, and he hasn’t been able to get lefties out. They are hitting .311/.373/.489 against Okert.

Siegrist has of course had his troubles this season, but has always been tough on left-handed hitters, holding them to a .227 average throughout his big league career. But even more promising for a lefty is the fact that he has always been able to consistently get right-handers out as well. Righties have hit just .195/.277/.351 against Siegrist over five big league seasons.

If the Giants can figure out a way to bring in Siegrist, they can give him the final month to work with Dave Righetti and Mark Gardner in an effort to figure things out. Much like with Dyson, if Siegrist can come in and show improvement with a new voice talking to him, he is under control for two more seasons after this one. After such a down season this year, he shouldn’t expect much of a raise next year, if any at all, from the $1,637,500 he earned through arbitration this year.

If Siegrist comes in and shows no signs of improvement, the team can non-tender him and move on to free agency if they want to improve the left-handed relief group. The only real risk from this deal is that Siegrist doesn’t improve and team wastes a roster spot for a month on him. After watching their current lefties fail time and time again this season, it’s a risk well worth taking.

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The potential reward is great. A good Siegrist will make a bullpen that is already looking much better for next season look that much more formidable. Putting him with Smith, Melancon, and Dyson, as well as Hunter Strickland and Kyle Crick, could make the Giants’ bullpen a strength again.