Friday, February 14, 2020

The 'pen

There are a lot of arms in the Giants camp and the bullpen is mostly unsettled. Veteran lefty Tony Watson is a sure thing--he signed a one-year ($3M) deal! New skipper Gabe Kapler has reportedly said that righties Trevor Gott and Tyler Rogers "will be a big part of the bullpen." Rogers made his ML debut last season. In 17 IP he struck out 16 and walked three, allowing 12 hits (no homers) and three runs. He's 29 and has been in the system since 2013 when he was drafted out of Austin Peay. He has three options left so if he falters they can shuttle him freely to AAA. Gott is 27 and is entering his sixth season in the majors. He's seen action for both the Nationals and the Angels. He gave up 26 runs in his 52-2/3 IP for the Giants last year but the good strikeout (57) and decent walk (17) numbers along with only four homers allowed give him a nice 3.12 FIP. Gott is arb-eligible next season and a free agent in 2024.

There are likely eight spots in the 'pen so that means five more to fill. I'm assuming a five-man rotation (13 pitcher limit on a 26-man roster for 2020) but one never knows. I won't be surprised if the Giants go with the opener idea or some other unusual roles for their hurlers. Should be a flurry of roster decisions in the next few weeks!


p.s. FIP is Fielding Independent Pitching. Think of it like ERA--that is, it works on the same scale (2.00 excellent, 4.50 average, 6.00 terrible). FIP tries to measure what a pitcher is actually responsible for (SO, BB, HR, HBP) and it strips out the role of defense. Most pitchers have little control over balls in play and some guys get penalized for playing on a poor-fielding team. Luck and sequencing are also stripped out in order to try to get a better measure of the pitcher's actual skill level. Over time FIP and ERA numbers tend to converge. ERA can be useful over the long haul. FIP is much better for season-to-season and other shorter time frames.


nomisnala said...

It will be difficult to produce a pen as good as the one we had last year, until the trades and the injuries, but here is hoping that the giants establish a good pen. It is very important for winning in light of an average or worse than average offense.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Bullpens are very volatile things. It was unusual that the Giants kept four guys together (Casilla, Lopez, Romo, Affeldt) for so long, and that they all performed at a high level for so long. That was quite a run and contributed hugely to the championships.

Last year the 'pen was the best part of the team but unfortunately didn't help much. Starting pitching (and run-scoring) is much more important! The Giants did the right thing, trading away their bullpen strength to get beefed up in other areas. The odds that they can assemble another reasonably effective bullpen seem pretty good to me. If they want to compete they'll have to hit the ball and score some goddamn runs and get more consistency from the starters. I note that the Nationals won the World Series with a pretty poor bullpen. They had overpowering starters and a great lineup so that weakness didn't hurt them, especially in the short post-season series.

I'm glad the Giants have a lot of openings in the 'pen. It should create some good competition for spots and that means we'll get the best of the bunch. I want to see what the guys can do. I don't expect much in terms of wins this season, but I do expect to see the talented arms emerge from the pack. We need to find out who the studs in the system are.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Burch Smith, who had been DFA'd, was traded to Oakland for "cash considerations."

First Giants-A's trade since 2004.

nomisnala said...

We will never know what would have happened last year when the brass decided to trade the pen away for the future. How many games were we away from Washington at that time? The true answer is unknown. Speculation is only a guess in either direction. Sometimes one little move can have undue impact. ie; What was the actual effect of trading away Matt Duffy? Who really knows? Despite the pessimism regarding 2020, I will remain optimistic and hope for some positive surprises. After all, the games have to be played in real time. If the team ends up as bad as some are predicting, than I guess most fans will be okay with trading away assets for the future. To me, and many we would like to see a nice mixture of preparing for the future, but fielding a competitive team every year. It is unfair to the current players not to do so. It is also unfair to the fans who give tremendous support to this team.

M.C. O'Connor said...

The Giants were not a good team last year. They had two good months and they had four bad months. They scored the third-fewest runs in all of baseball!

There are no certainties, of course, but you have to go with the probabilities. The probability that the 2019 Giants had the talent to compete with the league leaders was pretty damn low. Selling was the right thing to do.

Rebuilding is the right thing to do. The youngsters are getting chances. Nothing unfair about that. The veterans have to earn their starting spots. Nothing unfair about that.

Fans have lived with the boom-and-bust cycle of sports teams all their lives. Most teams go through those. We had the boom, now we get the bust. I hope the new guys try to build something more sustainable, a franchise that puts out consistent competitive squads. That's not going to happen without some painful changes, and it does not seem smart to put lipstick on a pig. The team could have bought some fancy free agents for 2020 but I doubt they'd improve the team enough in the short term and they'd certainly delay development in the long term.

Fans are fickle. Most of them aren't junkies and loyalists like we are. They'll get over it as soon as the team starts winning again.

I, for one, am eager for 2020. They could lose 100 games or they could surprise us with a winning squad. I'm ready. I just want to see an influx of new talent and I want to see the best development and usage of the existing talent.