The Giants bullpen had a bad night last night. There's plenty of blame to go around on the pitching staff, but some of those pitchers are good baseball players who had a bad game. Some of them are not. How should we figure out who's who? By making an ordered list going from the best relievers to the worst relievers, of course, as is the immutable law of the Internet. And speaking of Law...
1. Derek Law
Oh boy, Derek Law should not be this high. He's had two appearances in the big leagues, and I, for one, already trust him more than anyone else in the bullpen. This will certainly change when he falters a bit and some of the other relievers pick up the slack, but for now, he's the shiny new toy who, when he comes in, you stop everything to watch. "Look at that toy," you say. "It's so shiny and it will certainly have that same new toy gleam until the end of time." Coming into last night's game, Law's FIP was -2.89. Negative two point eight nine. I see no reason why that can't continue forever.
2. Josh Osich
He had an awful spring, he had an awful game in Colorado, and his SSS walk rate is much, much higher than we'd like it to be. But other than that, Mrs Lincoln, everything's great, and no, I'm not sure why I'm addressing Brad Lincoln's wife. Osich has gone out and generally looked fantastic. He's only allowed a hit in two out of his eight appearances this year, he's been locating well, and he's taken on the Good Affeldt role, except hopefully without the wacky injuries.
This year's Wacky Affeldt Injury, by the way: cut his finger washing his truck. Eat your heart out, Jeff Kent!
3. Hunter Strickland
Because of his performance in the 2014 postseason, there's a reactionary nervousness that comes when Strickland enters a game and anything bad happens. Unlike Santiago Casilla, Strickland has the stuff to make that impulsive wariness go away. He throws really, really hard, he presumably has some other pitches or whatever, and then he throws hard again. Strickland had a breakout 2015, he had pitched extremely well in the early going in 2016, and the only reason to definitively rank him below Osich is a myopic what have you done for me lately attitude that overrates last night's game in terms of evaluating a pitcher's true talent level. I'm still doing that, though, because I'm dumb.
4. Santiago Casilla
I had this whole plan last night if Casilla got the save. He was going to be second, and I was going to be all, "Santiago Casilla might be the best reliever in Giants history, but still no one trusts him enough to ever be number one on this list." Then, Santiago Casilla demonstrated why no one trusts him enough to ever be number one on this list. It was just a bad pitch for a homer that barely got out on a warm night when balls were flying, but it was still enough. Bad time to blow a save, Santiago. By that, I mean "any time to blow a save," because honestly, it's never a good time.
Anyway, that homer dropped him a couple spots, which is pretty unfair.
5. George Kontos
Giants reliever George Kontos has a flexor strain, will be out a while. Felt it in spring training. Could have used him tonight.— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) April 19, 2016
5. Cory Gearrin
As one of two relievers to do a good job last night – he did cash in Peavy's last run, but there was a runner on third and nobody out when he came in, so nobody's being too hard on him – this seems a little low, but, I mean, do you really trust him? He hasn't proven himself at the major league level since coming back from Tommy John, so prudence is well-advised here. Bruce Bochy isn't really trusting him in tight spots yet, so why should we?
Is it hypocritical to have Derek Law so high on the list, and Gearrin here? Yes. Yes, it is.
6. Mike Broadway or Jake Dunning or Steven Okert or whoever
I wrote this last night. I don't know who's getting called up or when it's happening. Whoever it is, he'll go here.
7. Javier Lopez
Bryan and I ended the podcast yesterday by evaluating the Sunday Night Baseball Giants as if they were a real team. Since the Giants always look awful on Sunday Night Baseball, and we recorded it directly after watching the Giants be, again, awful on Sunday Night Baseball, it was a cathartic way to come up with creative insults for a team that had the temerity to play poorly in one of their 162 baseball games this season. It was fun, and it was a good way to get some of those frustrations off our chests.
Javier Lopez is having the Sunday Night Baseball Giants of seasons. By all rights, he should probably be in last, but there's always going to be that hope with him that he'll get his command back and he'll be magic against lefties again. In 60 years, if you told me that Lopez was on his deathbed, I'd still be thinking you could put him in for a left-handed batter or two and get that platoon advantage. I've seen it for too long. Just like no one will ever fully trust Casilla, no one will ever fully not trust Lopez. Impossible.
8. Chris Heston
In his first outing this year, Heston threw one inning against the Dodgers. It was a clean inning, with a strikeout, and he ended up getting a win. Excellent job, Chris.
In his next outing, Heston threw two innings at Coors Field and gave up a run. Jake Peavy started that game in historically poor fashion, so Heston's two solid inning were a big help, both to the bullpen and to the team, that for a while had a good shot at a comeback. Sure, he gave up a run, but it's Coors. Runs happen. Frankly, if he didn't give up a run, that would have been creepy.
In his third outing this year, Chris Heston wondered why the hell he was coming into the game on 0 days rest, and proceeded to light himself on fire in protest.
Chris Heston's fourth outing this year was last night, and it was a disaster. It was almost fine! If the slow two-out grounder he'd induced had found a glove and gotten itself over to first base instead of slipping under Joe Panik's hand, the inning would have been over. Instead, the inning was emphatically not over, and the Diamondbacks scored two runs, emphasizing that little voice in our heads saying that maybe Chris Heston isn't actually a reliever. Maybe this is a bad role for him, and the team should figure out a better one. Maybe this is a blip, and like all small sample size bullpen issues, you shouldn't pay too much attention to it.
There you have it: hasty overreactions to a string of bad performances. Am I nuts for having [Guy] ranked above [Other Guy}? Probably. Sorry. I'll try to do better in the future.