Bullpen Confidence

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 13: Brian Wilson #38 of the San Francisco Giants pitches in the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during a MLB baseball game at AT&T Park April 13, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The Giants won the game 4-3. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Watching "The Franchise" last night, I realize just how much of a Marc Kroon fan I've become. When he was just an NRI with an interesting story, he was still easy to root for. But his supporting role in the Showtime series puts a face and a personality to the NPB stats, which only stokes the Kroon fire around these parts. Let this be a save haven for Krooniacs, where non-believers are shunned and shamed.

Also, please note that he is on pace for about 80 innings of 0.00 relief pitching, which would be the greatest season in AAA history.

Problem is, there isn't an obvious spot for him. The back end of the Giants bullpen has been fantastic to start the season. Guillermo Mota and Ramon Ramirez have combined for fifteen innings that add up to something like an extra Matt Cain. Dan Runzler has had one miserable game, but he's been solid otherwise. Jeremy Affeldt isn't going anywhere unless he has about 40 more innings like his first four. And when Santiago Casilla comes back, everyone will be pushed one slot back, complicating things further.

The season started with Brian Wilson ailing with an oblique injury, a notoriously pesky problem, and Casilla throwing 92-mph fastballs without a lot of command. It was right around then that I thought that Casey Stengel quote: "One year's dominant bullpen is another year's vortex of zero-gravity suck."  Well, if he didn't say that, he should have. Bullpens are weird. The 2009 Giants got 125 productive innings out of Justin Miller and Brandon Medders. There's no rhyme or reason to that. I was worried that one of the Giants' strengths -- a nifty bullpen -- would be a fleeting thing, as they can be. Then came this:

 

Wilson-new_medium

 

It's hard to see in the .gif, but look where Posey's glove ends up. The pitch started in the middle of the plate, and it ended up behind Jamey Carroll's butt. That mouse pointer must have been pretty distracting too.  A single pitch can't mean anything in the context of how an entire bullpen will perform, but danged if that pitch didn't make me think the bullpen was going to be just fine. Irrational, yes, but it did. Well, that, and Sergio Romo's ridiculous start to the season. It's like the hitters are going back to the dugout and muttering, "Hey, no one told me he has a slider."

And hopefully, hopefully, hopefully we'll get to see Kroon at some point, even if only in September. If the bullpen keeps it up, though, that's about the only chance we'll have to see him.

Comment starter: how confident are you in the Giants' bullpen?

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