The Giants got to have fun with their 25-man roster for the Wild Card Game. They got to build a huge bench with extra position players, just in case, and they also got to keep two extra starters to moonlight as long relievers, just in case.
Number of pinch-hitters used: 0
Number of relievers used: 0
But we got to talk about hypothetical baseball situations and baseball rosters and baseball strategy, so that was fun. It’s time to do it again. Except this time it gets a little trickier. The Giants are going to need at least four of their starting pitchers. They can’t play games with a big bench or a short bullpen.
Skip to the end if you want to read about the actual roster for 2016 and not the expired ramblings about a 13-year-old roster.
This might all seem trivial, but let me put on my old man pants and remind all you millennials about a little series back in 2003. The Giants that year had Barry Bonds at the height of his powers, and they won 100 games (even though they played only 161). They were the only team in franchise history to go wire-to-wire in first place, and they had a Cy Young winner. Or should have. It was one of the strongest teams of that fine era.
You might remember how that series ended: with J.T. Snow, who would have been the tying run, barrelling into Pudge Rodriguez at the plate.
What you might not remember is that the Giants had 12 pitchers on their roster that series. Four starting pitchers and eight relievers. Of those relievers, two were left-handed.
There were four left-handers who got at-bats for the Marlins that entire season. That would be Juan Pierre, Todd Hollandsworth, Andy Fox, and Lenny Harris. Pierre, Fox, and Harris combined for one home run that year, and Pierre didn’t have substantial platoon splits. That meant the only player on the entire Marlins roster who might have necessitated a LOOGY was Hollandsworth, who had a .739 OPS that year (93 OPS+).
The Giants carried two LOOGYs on the roster. One of them was Jason Christiansen, who pitched to one batter the entire series. Probably because he absolutely, positively was not necessary.
Twelve pitchers means five bench players. And in the ninth inning of an elimination game, just two of those bench players were left. One led off the inning, which means when the tying run got to second base in the form of the slowest player on the team, if not the league, the only possible pinch-runner left was a backup catcher.
The Giants had an extra left-handed reliever to face left-handed threats that didn’t exist. But they didn’t have a single fast guy on the bench when they needed one.
They left Eric Young, fast guy, off the roster for that lefty reliever.
Young would have scored the tying run, I’m sure of it.
The Giants would have started Jason Schmidt in Game 5.
Either they would have won the pennant, and/or poor Steve Bartman would have his life back.
The Giants carrying a LOOGY they didn’t need ruined that poor man’s life.
End of expired ramblings
Anywho, so rosters are important.
Let’s see if there’s anything about the Cubs that makes a 25-man roster move obvious.
- They have three left-handed hitters worth LOOGYing, including Anthony Rizzo, so two lefties would make sense
- They can score a million-billion runs, so keeping a long reliever might be wise
- Their starters don’t walk a lot of batters, so keeping at least one power threat on the bench to "put both cheeks into one" would be preferable
- You miiiiiight want an extra right-handed batter on the bench to fail in a more aesthetically pleasant way against Aroldis Chapman, but that’s up to you.
Nothing too out of the ordinary, in other words. With that, here’s my preferred 25-man roster, which also might be the Giants’ preferred 25-man roster:
I go back and forth between Okert and Ty Blach, but I figure that Okert can pitch in high-leverage situations and eat two innings in the low-leverage situations that are lost causes anyway, whereas Blach isn’t familiar with relieving.
Edit: Uh, yeah, forgot Javier Lopez. Just haven't gotten used to that guy yet.
And gimme the extra pitcher over Gregor Blanco or Ehire Adrianza, but only if Nuñez can actually play. If he’s half-on, half-off the roster just in case, I’ll take Adrianza instead, leaving Gearrin off.
These probably are the players who will make up the 2016 Giants’ postseason team. There probably aren’t any controversies here. Go local sports team.