The Giants bullpen got reinforcements from AAA and the DL after the game yesterday, and that means there are more guys to power rank. Who can be trusted in the bullpen? Whose appearances mean it’s time to take a Zofran? Time to find out!
When I did this last time, I had Derek Law in first. Let’s see what’s changed since then.
1. Derek Law (Last ranked: 1)
Please don’t take my denial from me.
1. Hunter Strickland (LR: 2)
He’s been hitting 99 on the gun lately, which is delightful, and he’s also been doing a very good job of not allowing runs to score. His second half ERA is below 2, and he’s looked like it. This is the reliever we all assumed he’d be when we first saw him. Enjoy it while it lasts.
2. Santiago Casilla (LR: 6)
God, that curveball to Schoop was fat. Don’t throw pitches like that anymore, Santiago, and you can tell I’m serious because I’m not calling you Jairo.
I’m glad we had this talk. Keep up the otherwise good work.
3. George Kontos (LR: 5)
He’s just really good at not giving up runs. The perception of Kontos is colored by a very poor May and some advanced stats that suggest that say he’s overperforming his peripherals, but he’s reliably done the job that a pitcher is supposed to do. In July, people were openly talking about DFAing him. Made no sense then, makes no sense now.
4. Will Smith (LR: Not ranked)
I dunno, maybe this is dumb. Maybe I’m buying into some "He fixed his mechanics" or "He found his comfort zone in San Francisco" story that doesn’t actually mean anything, but right now, he seems like a good pitcher.
5. Josh Osich (LR: 7)
In terms of pure stuff, Osich might be behind only Strickland in this bullpen. In terms of harnessing that stuff, well, that’s a little trickier. His rehab in AAA went well, giving up one run in seven innings while striking out 8 and walking 2, and hopefully he’s back and ready to contribute, especially considering that the expanded bullpen means he shouldn’t have to face a lot of righties.
6. Sergio Romo (LR: 3)
Romo would probably be higher if he hadn’t had that nasty play on Tuesday where it looked like he hurt his knee. He didn’t apparently, and stayed in the game, then pitched again yesterday, but did you notice he looked pretty bad yesterday? That could be nothing. That could also be a knee problem. So he drops.
7. Matt Reynolds (LR: NR)
This year, Reynolds has appeared in 8 games in AA, 12 in AAA, and 2 in the majors. He has allowed 0 runs. That’s pretty good! As to how that will play in the future in the majors, I don’t know. His velocity is down a tick from where it was from 2011-2013, which comprises most of his time in the majors, but he’s been getting the results anyway, so maybe that doesn’t matter. Or maybe it will come back to bite him in a more extended stint in the majors. Who can even tell?
8. Steven Okert (LR: NR)
There was a late July/early August stint in AAA where Okert was giving up a lot of runs and generally doing quite poorly, but otherwise his year in the minors has been very good. He did something similar in 2015, too, having a pretty disastrous month or so in Sacramento before turning it around to end the season. It seems like he’s fully capable of losing his mechanics sometimes, which is bad. It also seems like he’s fully capable of finding them again, which is good, though it would be more good if he never lost them in the first place. Something to work on!
9. Javier Lopez (LR: 4)
Lopez has dramatically improved from earlier in the year, and here I am, burying him in the rankings. I’m mean. On the other hand, it’s not like he was that good in August, really, and he continues to not resemble the guy who made Joey Votto look like he had never seen a baseball before in his life. At this point, when Lopez is in a game, you just don’t know what you’re going to get.
Disclaimer: I thought that about him in 2014 too, and then he made me look stupid in the postseason, and if he would like to do that again, I would be 100% in favor of it.
10. Ty Blach (LR: NR)
Ty Blach had a very good year in AAA this year as a starter. Here are the questions about using him out of the bullpen this September: Can he adjust to the bullpen? Can he adjust to the majors? Is the pure stuff good enough? Is he going to maintain his command even with the excitement of being in the big leagues? Can he adjust to throwing the ball through the entire month of September? Is he maybe going to take the fifth spot in the rotation if Albert Suarez has a poor game in Chicago, thus negating his appearance on this list?
I don’t want to come across like I have the answers to these questions, because I don’t. In many cases, those are short-term issues that don’t reflect his talent level going forward in his career. But they are questions, and considering that, for now, he’s mostly in the majors as the long man in the glass case, the most likely scenario is that they don’t really get answered in a large enough sample to mean anything.
11. Cory Gearrin (LR: NR)
I get nervous when Cory Gearrin comes into a game and exasperated a short time later when he gives up baserunners and runs and stuff, and if he would like to rediscover the form that made him so effective up until mid-July, that would be fine.