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Giants call up Kyle Crick, demote Derek Law

Crick has picked up saves for Sacramento, and Law was struggling mightily.

San Francisco Giants v Kansas City Royals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Giants shook up their bullpen on Tuesday, calling up right-hander Kyle Crick and demoting Derek Law. If you were expecting to read that sentence two months ago, congratulations. You’re a demon. Stay away from my children.

Crick’s season has been one of the best stories in the Giants’ system this year, as the former top prospect has reinvented himself as a reliable late-inning reliever after losing several seasons to control gremlins. The former first-round pick always had an electric arm, but he was incapable of throwing strikes. After walking more than six batters for every nine innings he pitched in 2014 in Double-A, he walked more than nine batters per nine innings at the same level in 2015. While he got the BB/9 back down to 5.5 in 2016, he did so at the cost of his strikeout rate, which plummeted below the Eastern League average.

Instead of sticking Crick in Richmond for the fourth straight season, the Giants permanently converted him to relief and moved him up to Triple-A. It was a bold challenge move for the 24-year-old, and he responded. He’s walking fewer batters than ever before (just 13 of the 124 batters he’s faced) while striking out plenty (12.0 K/9 in 29 innings). He’s keeping the ball in the ballpark, too, allowing just one home run on the season.

Back in April, Crick was my irrational hope for the 2017 minor-league season. His spring was excellent and tantalizing, but it seemed like it was going to be a stretch for him to have everything snap into place in one year. And here we are. I’m so very excited to watch him pitch.

Alas, the news isn’t all happy-fun-prospect time because a former Official Relief Prospect of McCovey Chronicles was sent down to make room. Derek Law was one of the only bright spots in the 2016 Giants bullpen, emerging in the middle of the season and slowly moving his way up the bullpen depth chart. In 55 innings last year, Law walked nine batters and struck out 50, while allowing just three home runs. Those are some pretty numbers.

The numbers this year have been unpretty. Law’s ERA ballooned to 5.40 after a five-run meltdown on Monday night, and he’s already walked more batters and allowed more homers this season than he did in 2016. Law had allowed at least two runs or more in each of his last three appearances, and he had done so in four of his six outings in June.

Or, to put it another way, Law allowed 10 earned runs in six June games this year. He allowed 13 earned runs in 61 games last year.

Law’s velocity wasn’t an issue this year, but his command certainly was. His curveball was frequently left over the plate, and hitters did bad, unspeakable things to it. Left-handed batters were especially cruel, hitting .364/.419/.636 against him, but it’s not like his .299/.360/.403 line against right-handers was acceptable for a late-inning reliever, either. Everyone was hitting him hard, and he’ll have to figure out what went wrong while he’s in Triple-A.

I’m pulling for him, even as I understand why the move needed to happen. This scuttles my “Maybe it’s time to demote Derek Law” article that I was planning for today, which is good, because I didn’t want to write it. It always feels creepy to write opinion pieces about why players, coaches, managers, or executives should have something horrible happen to their careers.

Except this doesn’t have to be horrible! Once the adjustments are made, Law will be right back up. Or, at least, that’s how the best-case scenario goes. I’m going to assume we’ll get the best-case scenario because that’s just how the 2017 Giants have wired me.

In the meantime, the Giants will have a fresh, new, exciting arm in the bullpen. If there’s something this miserable team needs, it’s anything with a hint of fresh, new, or exciting. Getting all three in one roster move is very fine, indeed.