On August 3, Santiago Casilla allowed a game-tying homer to A.J. Pierzynski. You're supposed to say that sentence out loud with the same tone of voice as "The sitter let your kid play with the radial saw again," a mixture of horror and disbelief. Of all the goonybirds to allow a home run to, I mean ... The Giants lost the game, which they had led 6-0, and everything was awful. The calls to KNBR were harsh. The Internet comments were harsher. Maybe Aroldis Chapman cleared waivers? There was exactly one problem on the Giants, and it was the bullpen.
Then all of the position players broke and the bullpen was fine.
Since August 1:
Don't look at the ERA so much as the K/9 and BB/9 ratios, which are solid. Okay, you can peek at the ERA. I won't judge you. The homers-per-nine is a little high, but i'll blame the sample size. The Giants have been perfectly okay once the starters have left, which is important because exactly one starter is a good bet to finish six innings or more.
This is important because a lot of these guys are coming back. Here are the likely contributors to the 2016 bullpen over the last two months:
That's a cool 2.11 ERA and 27 walks to 103 strikeouts in 111 innings for the high-leverage pitchers since August started. If those stats belonged to a single pitcher, he'd make $15 million next year.
Also, Lopez is a freak, don't mind him. He's basically Lester playing with model furniture in the basement of the police department, just let him do his thing and he's pretty good at it.
The core ... seven .. ish ... have been very solid over the last two months. That doesn't have to mean anything about what they're going to do in the future -- lol sample size, always and forever -- but it gives you an idea of how the Giants are perceiving them. Bobby Evans and his cadre of nimble assistants aren't panicking over any of those folks. Only Kontos gives me the willies, but only because he's hardly struck anyone out this year.
Petit could get more than $3 million in arbitration, and considering the Giants only use him when they're about to lose (11-27 in his games this year), they might be unwilling to pay that much. For the most part, though, the Giants will have seven bullpen spots next year, with at least six of them filled with relievers who are ending the season on a relatively high note.
This doesn't include the options from the farm, like Steven Okert, Michael Broadway, Derek Law, Cody Hall, or Cory Gearrin, who impressed over the weekend. This doesn't include the minor-league free agents and waiver claims who show up every year, some of whom turn into the next Petit or Strickland. And this doesn't include Tim Lincecum on a one-year, incentive-laden deal, either hanging out in the bullpen or making someone else hang out there.
How will the bullpen do? Ha ha ha, we have no idea. Bullpens are people at your party, rummaging through your medicine cabinet and drinking things without reading the labels. The point isn't that the Giants are stacked in the bullpen. The point is that there's almost nothing left to do there. Unless the Giants want to allocate all of their trade and monetary resources to acquire a super-reliever like Craig Kimbrel (who might not even be available), the bullpen is the bullpen is the bullpen.
Back in June or July, that seemed like a dire set of circumstances, that nothing would change. Over the last month, especially with Sergio Romo looking like his 2011 self again, the bullpen has looked like a net positive. Because of that, and because of the relative depth in the system, the Giants are probably set.
This could change quickly because of injuries and trades. And you know the bullpen in May is going to feature, I don't know, Luis Vizcaino or something, just because that's how bullpens work. For the purposes of the offseason, though, the GIants aren't likely to make a major move to improve the bullpen. Based on how well they're all pitching now, that might not be a bad thing.