Every year, teams go out and spend a lot of money -- guaranteed money -- on relievers. It's just something everyone in baseball does. The Giants do it. The Giants did it with Santiago Casilla (maybe regretfully) and Jeremy Affeldt (probably not as regretfully). When you argue about bullpen construction on the Internet, you usually fall into two camps: A) spending the extra coin is a good thing if you're getting back good pitching and B) oh my God why are you spending good money on relievers, you idiots.
The actual "right way" to build your bullpen is blend of the two camps. Paying relievers free agent dollars -- while it still makes me grind my teeth -- is something that you've just got to do now and then. The same goes for finding cheaply acquired, freely available talent that can add value and depth to your bullpen.
The Giants did a great job of it last year with George Kontos. This year they've done it again with Jean Machi.
Among Giants that have thrown at least 10 innings in the bullpen, Machi ranks in the following statistical categories: 3rd in K% (22.3); 2nd in BB% (4.5); 2nd in FIP (1.93); 2nd in K/BB (4.20); and 2nd in WAR (0.6). A guy named "Sergio Romo" leads most of these categories.
How does Machi do it? He pummels batters with his splitter. Or, if you prefer a beatiftul GIF of said splitter:
Check that thing out. If a good curveball "drops off the table," Machi's splitter is committing crimes against humanity. According to PitchF/X, approximately every third pitch Machi throws (32.6 percent) is the splitter. It's a pitch that averages 86.3 mph. Machi primarily works off a 93 mph fastball that he uses to get in front of hitters before dropping in the splitter. Machi's usage of the splitter skyrockets all the way to 62.1 percent in two-strike counts.
At age 31, it's possible that Machi is peaking, or already past his peak, but the Giants appear to have found a solid reliever for the cost of peanuts and a few bus tickets from Fresno. George Kontos is a cautionary tale of reliever volatility, but results aside, the quality of Machi's splitter has been a lot of fun to watch. It's a pitch that's good enough to warrant its own designation -- Romo's Slider, Affeldt's Curveball, Machi's Splitter. Sounds about right.
Also fun to watch? Hitters missing pitches by three feet:
That'll do Machi. That'll do.