The Giants may still have some work to do in the outfield, but they're just about finished assembling a pitching staff. At this point, the only big question left is whether they carry seven relievers or eight. Fortunately for me, I can write a whole article about that. I'm about to do it!
I wanted to rifle through Grant's phone and find the numbers for Point and Counterpoint, but for some reason he wasn't into that idea, and I don't know how you're supposed to unlock someone else's phone if the password isn't "1234," so I did the next best thing: I found their non-union Mexican equivalent. Meet Punto and Contrapunto, baseball debaters extraordinaire!
Punto: For most of the year last year, the Giants carried 13 pitchers. They didn't waver from 13 when they had multiple position players dinged up, they didn't waver when they had guys in AAA tearing the cover off the ball, and when it came time to get rid of Jean Machi, they considered wavering, but then decided, "Nah," and brought up another pitcher. Do you really think they're going to waver now?
Contrapunto: You said "waver" so often it began to not look like a word.
Punto: Stay on topic here.
Contrapunto: Look, that's all true, but here's what you need to consider: the starters should be a lot better this year. The Giants went out and got Samardzija, they went out and got Cueto, they got rid of Hudson, Vogelsong, and Leake, it's almost a certainty that Lincecum's gonna be gone-
Punto: I'm not convinced on that last part.
Contrapunto: REGARDLESS, the rotation's much better. Bumgarner's great, Cueto's great, Samardzija should at least give the team innings, Peavy's good for six innings, and if Cain implodes again they've got Heston and Blackburn, and one of those three should be a non-disaster. The rotation covering more innings means that the bullpen covers less, so you don't need as many bullpen guys.
Punto: And what if Cueto gets hurt? Or Samardzija's bad? Or Bumgarner decides he wants to go Full Ruth and becomes a left fielder?
Contrapunto: That solves our outfield problems, anyway.
Punto: The point is, 13 pitchers is insurance against something going wrong. And it also helps if you can't rely on too many guys in the bullpen. Right now, if the Giants carry a 12-man staff, their veterans are Casilla, Kontos, Romo, and Lopez. They're all on the team. And the last three are probably Strickland, Osich, and Heston. Is there anyone in that bullpen who makes you think, "Oh thank God HE'S in the game"? Maybe Strickland, but we've seen that he can get frighteningly dinger-prone. Maybe Osich, but he's still more Shiny New Toy than Proven Commodity. Meltdowns are coming.
Contrapunto: Was that supposed to be a Game of Thrones reference?
Contrapunto: All right, just checking. I don't want you getting the masses on your side with some cheap pop culture reference. But I think you're not taking into account the amount of dead weight in the bullpen that's gone, just like The Operative didn't take into account Mal's nerve cluster moved when he tried to-
Contrapunto: Worth a shot. Anyway, Affeldt had a great career with the Giants, but last year he was terrible, and they kept him on the roster out of some combination of respect and loyalty. He's gone. Vogelsong bounced around between the rotation and bullpen and wasn't especially good in either role, but he took up a roster spot all year. Gone. Yusmeiro Petit – oh, man, Yusmeiro Petit.
Punto: It's sad that they added that clause to the Geneva Conventions disallowing the Giants from using Petit in a close game.
Contrapunto: But Petit's usage, while bad, was a consequence of that bad rotation. Bochy never knew when a starter would go out in the third inning, so he felt he had to keep his long man in reserve just in case. This year, the rotation should hold up better, so that swingman spot could get into closer games and save the short relievers from getting overworked, which would keep the team from having to add an eighth bullpen arm.
Punto: But then Bruce Bochy will make up that difference by playing more matchups. Matchups matchups bork bork bork!
Contrapunto: Are you serious. Is "Bruce Bochy is bad" a serious point you are trying to make right now.
Punto: I'm really sorry.
Contrapunto: Well, continue.
Punto: But, while Bochy isn't a bad manager, he does love matchups, and that means bullpen guys get used a lot. Romo and Lopez have severe enough platoon splits that they're not going to go a lot of full innings, Casilla will be the closer, so he'll get full innings regardless, but he struggled against lefties last year, and Kontos, while good against everyone, was noticeably worse against lefties. Those are worrying trends, and you need to be able to cover for them.
Contrapunto: Well okay, but-
Punto: Also, Kontos is going to regress hard. A .219 BABIP and 87% strand rate won't last forever.
Contrapunto: Sorry, I didn't hear that, I was busy looking at his butt.
Punto: So add all that up, and what you get is an 8-man bullpen and a 13-man staff, especially with just two off days in April, when starters' arms can't necessarily be stretched as far as they can be later in the year.
Contrapunto: I think that there's enough coverage that the team will be comfortable going with 12.
Punto: Agree to disagree then.
Punto: Just ask it.
Contrapunto: Are you supposed to be Nick Punto?
Punto: (sighs) No.
A good way to end this would seem to be a poll, so here's a poll: