The Giants bullpen was a disaster this year, as you might remember, and in related news, the Giants lost Joe Biagini in the Rule 5 draft to the Blue Jays over the offseason. Biagini had a great year for Toronto, with a 3.06 ERA and 2.95 FIP, and is excelling in the postseason, having given up 0 earned runs in 6.1 innings. The Giants bullpen, by contrast, had a collective ERA over 400 and forfeited 18 games in the postseason alone, costing the team a shot at losing later in the postseason, when it really would have hurt.
The Giants could have kept Biagini, of course; all they’d have had to do was put him on the 40-man roster. They didn’t do that, possibly because while he had a great ERA in Richmond in 2015, his strikeout rate indicated that he wasn’t ready for the majors yet. The Blue Jays got around this by turning Biagini, who had been a starter, into a reliever just like our very own quincy0191 said could work (based on having a great curveball) 9 days before the Rule 5 Draft:
The system's second-best mark belongs to Joe Biagini, who's also 25, but spent his year as a starter in AA. I doubt that lasts, but with a two-pitch mix that features a low 90s FB and a hammer curve plus good control, there's serious potential for a good reliever in here.
So would Biagini have saved the bullpen from disaster?
One problem the Giants bullpen had this year (other than the 9th inning, which we’ll get to) was awful platoon splits. Joe Biagini, effective reliever, didn’t really have platoon splits. He gave up a .315 wOBA to lefties and a .283 wOBA to righties. Biagini could have been a late inning stabilizing force, getting the ball to Santiago Casilla with more 3-run leads which, at least earlier in the season, he was able to protect. That would have allowed him to make some mistakes without them being game-ending soul crushers, and it would have allowed the defense, which frequently failed him in the 9th inning, to do the same.
This could have prevented his confidence from eroding, which could have helped him keep his head where it needed to be for a major league closer, and then maybe he wouldn’t have thrown that goddamn hanging curve against the Orioles. And if things did start to go wrong, then the other good relievers would not have already been used and could have come in to help bail Casilla and the team out.
But in addition to the cascade effect that could have taken place, Biagini was just a good pitcher. He had a good groundball rate, a good ERA, a good FIP, an fWAR that would have been the best in the Giants bullpen, and he did all that in Toronto, a ballpark that’s consistently been a very good place to hit. They still wouldn’t have been the best bullpen in the league, but with Biagini on the team, the 2016 Giants bullpen would have been not-terrible instead of, you know, terrible.
Do you really think Joe Biagini was going to make Bruce Bochy stop playing the matchups? There is nothing on this Earth that could make Bruce Bochy stop playing matchups. The Giants went out and acquired Will Smith, a lefty whose strength was literally that he was able to get righties out, and Bruce Bochy played the matchups with him. Biagaini’s small platoon splits would have made no difference. He would have faced very small numbers of lefties.
And if you think that there would have been a cascade effect whereby Biagini solidifying the 7th or 8th inning would mean that someone besides Casilla would have gotten a chance to be closer, there’s no reason to think that. All year, Derek Law was the best reliever on the roster. All year, Casilla was blowing saves. He was still getting chances to close through mid-September. The presence of Biagini would not have changed that any more than the presence of Law or Hunter Strickland or Will Smith did.
To sum it up, the real problem this year was that the 2016 Giants bullpen was a garbage monster from the depths of hell that fed on the anguish in our souls, and Joe Biagini could not have solved that.
As is customary for any Joe Biagini article, I now wrap it up by posting this video: