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Scott Alexander placed on IL; Sean Hjelle recalled

And things had been going so well down in the arm barn...

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Per Alex Pavlovic, the San Francisco Giants have placed Scott Alexander on the IL following a hamstring strain. This is an unfortunate setback for the team’s stellar relief corps that’s been on an incredible run since May 15th, with a 3-win value during a 19-9 run by the team; and, really, since May 1st, the Giants’ relievers have generated 2.8 fWAR, tied for the Marlins for the best in Baseball.

If you’re suspicious of Scott Alexander’s utility specifically, I suppose that’s fine. You’re entitled to your opinion. Facts-wise, for whatever that’s worth to you, he’s pitched just 23 innings, appeared in just 27 games, and has struck out only 11 batters this season. Still, his 3.52 ERA / 3.67 FIP is good, and since May 15th (when the Giants’ hot run really began) it’s been 0.00 (with a 3.59 FIP). For now, there isn’t a weak link in the Giants’ bullpen, and Alexander is no exception.

My favorite running stat of the season has been Statcast’s crush on Scott Alexander’s sinker. By Run Value — which MLB defines as “the run impact of an event [in this case: a single pitch] based on the runners on base, outs, ball and strike count” — it’s the 8th-best sinker in baseball (-8 Run Value), as effective as Josh Hader’s and Marcus Stroman’s. It’s been the 44th-best in Baseball, and by that -8 run value, it’s been as effective as Taylor Rogers’ sweeper and Anthony DeSclafani’s slider.

Injuries have plagued him his entire career, so, it was only a matter of time before he wound up on the IL, but in between those trips he’s been very effective. Dude’s good.

The Hjelle callup happened mainly because he’s the last guy available on the 40-man roster that they could call up. Cole Waites and Randy Rodriguez, the only other relievers on the 40-man who aren’t on the IL. Waites has not been great in Triple-A (6.08 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, 23-20 K-BB) and Rodriguez is on a rehab assignment coming off of an IL stint that ended just a few days ago.

Hjelle has exclusively started since going back down to Triple-A and has been fine there (4.09 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 26-10 K-BB), but he’ll almost certainly be available to Gabe Kapler for emergency relief or blowout purposes. Between the Giant Hjelle, Jakob Junis, Tristan Beck, and Keaton Winn, the Giants are well-positioned to play a bullpen game or bulk out some relief appearances to save their primary relievers for high leverage situations, but you have to admit it’s not a great position to be in, especially after the great run by the bullpen.