The news: David Huff is on the disabled list with a strained quad. Juan Perez is coming up to replace him. You saw the Huff news coming when he was removed from the game. Considering that Bruce Bochy was probably hoping for another inning or two from him, it had to have been a fairly substantial injury to get him out of the game. Because when the long reliever is hurt, who will long relieve the long reliever?
Luckily, the Giants had two. I'm not sure I remember a Giants bullpen with two pitchers qualified to be a long reliever. Before Monday night's game, I'm not sure I would have seen the point. It's probably a great thing they had two; not for Monday night, which was a lost cause, but for Tuesday night. Unless Madison Bumgarner implodes, it's still a remarkably well-rested bullpen, considering.
Still, there should probably be a contingency plan. While I firmly believe that Juan Perez's arm is one of life's greatest joys, and that he could have a 1.28 ERA in relief for the next 10 years, he is not likely to pitch this week. He is not likely to pitch on Tuesday night. And now, a day after the Giants bullpen had to absorb 7⅔ innings, the roster is back down to 12 pitchers, with five outfielders.
First thought: There should never be 13 pitchers on an active roster, and if I had thought about Jeremy Affeldt's activation for more than a second, I probably would have yelled more. My apologies for not yelling more.
Second thought: Boy, I sure wish the Giants had 13 pitchers on the active roster tonight.
Henry Schulman (at the link above) speculates that Angel Pagan or Michael Morse might be dealing with some tired legs, which would explain a lot. But I think the overriding concern was that 13 pitchers is always untenable. Really, baseball didn't adopt a 12-man bullpen as a standard until only recently. For years, baseball nerds on the World Wide Web laughed at 12-man bullpens, but we all got used to them. Having four pinch-hitters, one of them the backup catcher, is just too restrictive in the National League.
The Giants probably did it when Affeldt returned because they figured it would sort itself out -- either a pitcher would barf up runs or get hurt. They were right. Their choices now appeared to be:
1. Call up a pitcher specifically to help with Coors Field, leave him on the roster
2. Call up a pitcher specifically to help with Coors Field, demote him in five days to bring back Juan Perez (who couldn't come back until then, except in the instance of a disabled player, like Huff)
3. Call up a pitcher specifically to help with Coors Field, demote him right away, bring back an outfielder who isn't Perez for the next week
4. Make the roster the way it should be and hope like hell that Madison Bumgarner doesn't get shelled, or that there isn't a 15-inning game
The Giants are going with #4. It's ... probably the right decision. Don't plan for the anomalies, plan for the baseball you're expecting. But there is extra pressure on Bumgarner tonight. Extra, extra pressure. And if he's at 100 pitches by the middle of the fifth inning, there's going to be extra pressure to let him grind out the rest of the start.
I probably would have gone with #3 and started the Gary Brown Era, which probably isn't going to be the title of a book one day. But the Giants are gambling a bit. The long reliever tonight is probably Jeremy Affeldt or Juan Gutierrez. That's freaky.
I just wanted to tell you good luck, Madison, and we're all counting on you.