Friday, November 28, 2014

2015 Giants Depth Chart: Relief Pitching

The Giants bullpen, like other aspects of the roster, is entering a transition phase as stalwarts who have carried them through 3 championships in 5 seasons age or get more expensive than their true value.  There will likely several bullpen slots open for competition come spring training.  Some people complain about how much the Giants spend on their bullpen, but unless they sign a high priced reliever this offseason, the total cost of their bullpen will be no more than some teams pay for just their closer!


Santiago Casilla, RHP- 3-3, 1.70, 58.1 IP, 6.94 K/9, 2.31 BB/9, 19 Saves.  Casilla is the incumbent closer.  He did a solid job, but I don't think anyone was clamoring for him to close out Game 7 of the World Series.  He will earn $5 M in 2015 and has a team option for 2016.

Jeremy Affeldt, LHP- 4-2, 2.28, 55.1 IP, 6.67 K/9, 2.28 BB/9.  Affeldt, much like the Giants as a whole has alternated excellent seasons and down seasons.  2014 was an excellent season.  I'll say this about Affeldt.  Without him, I don't think the Giants win even 1 World Series in the past 5 seasons let alone 3!  He is coming into the final year of a 3 year contract and will be paid $5 M.  2015 will be his age 36 season.

Jean Machi, RHP- 7-1, 2.58, 66.1 IP, 6.92 K/9, 2.44 BB/9, 2 Saves.  Machi was terrific all season then kind of collapsed in the postseason.  Was he fatigued?  He seemed to suddenly start hanging his forkball.  He is not yet arbitration eligible, so will likely earn close to the league minimum.

Javier Lopez, LHP- 1-1, 3.11, 37.2 IP, 5.26 K/9, 4.54 BB/9.  Extreme lefty specialist.  Lopez had a down year.  Entering the second year of a 3 year contract and will be paid $4 M which may be a bit rich if he does not bounce back and kill lefty hitters again.

Hunter Strickland, RHP- 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 11.57 K/9, 0.00 BB/9, 1 Save.  His regular season line only shows a small fraction of the story here.  Strickland was used extensively in the postseason.  He had some spectacular moments such as saving the 18 inning game, but also gave up a ton of dingers.  Clearly has work to do before we can count on him for an MLB role in 2015.  Throws in the high 90's touching 100 MPH which Bochy clearly loves.

George Kontos, RHP- 4-0, 2.78, 32.1 IP, 7.52 K/9, 3.06 BB/9.  Has been maddeningly inconsistent looking great at times.  At other times gets slider happy and starts hanging 'em.

Erik Cordier, RHP- 0-0, 1.50, 6 IP, 13.50 K/9, 3.00 BB/9.  Throws even harder than Strickland, but has been wilder.  Will contend for a MLB job in Spring Training.

If the season started tomorrow, I think Strickland, Kontos and Cordier would be the back end of the bullpen.  If the Giants sign another starter, either Petit or Lincecum would slide into the bullpen and bump one of those 3 off.  Look for the Giants to bring in a veteran or two on minor league deals to provide competition in spring training too.  I don't think Romo will be back.



Brett Bochy, RHP- 4-4, 3.83, 54 IP, 7.83 K/9, 4.50 BB/9.  Son of the Giants Hall of Fame Manager.  Probably does not have enough stuff to be a MLB pitcher.



Steven Okert, LHP- 1-0, 2.73, 33 IP, 10.36 K/9, 3.00 BB/9, 5 Saves.  High A- 1-2, 1.53, 35.1 IP, 13.75 K/9, 2.80 BB/9, 19 Saves.  AFL- 0-0, 0.75, 12 IP, 12.75 K/9, 0.75 BB/9, 1 Save.  Big, hard throwing lefty who gets his FB into the mid-90's backed up by a plus slider.  A near lock to be at least a lefty specialist in the majors and possibly a lot more.  Heir apparent to Jeremy Affeldt's role and could even become a closer!  Don't count this guy out of the competition for a roster spot out of spring training!

Cody Hall, RHP- 1-4, 3.14, 51.2 IP, 9.93 K/9, 2.44 BB/9, 11 Saves.  Hard throwing RHP.  Does not have quite the velocity of Strickland or Cordier, but may be a better pitcher.  Definitely better command than Cordier.  Could help by midseason and may be in the mix for a roster spot out of Spring Training.

Derek Law, RHP- 2-0, 2.57, 28 IP, 9.32 K/9, 4.50 BB/9, 13 Saves.  The BB/9 was surprising for a guy who walked just 4 batters in 2013.  In retrospect, it was probably a sign of his UCL going.  Underwent TJ about 2 months in.  Should be back around midseason.  Realistically, probably won't be a factor at the MLB level until 2016.

Josh Osich, LHP- 1-0, 3.78, 33.1 IP, 7.29 K/9, 5.40 BB/9.  Osich has never really gotten his career on track, mostly due to nagging injuries.  Left unprotected for the upcoming Rule 5 draft.  Small chance he may be picked, but this year's Rule 5 draft is chock full of bullpen arms who have hit triple digits.

Phil McCormick, LHP- 2-4, 3.72, 65.1 IP, 8.54 K/9, 3.99 BB/9, 1 Save.  Lefty who can go more than 1 inning at a time.  Needs to cut down on the walks a bit.

Dan Slania, RHP- 0-0, 0.79, 11.1 IP, 2.38 K/9, 2.38 BB/9.  Low A- 2-5, 3.99, 58.2 IP, 7.06 K/9, 3.22 BB/9, 12 Saves.  Numbers a bit disappointing to my eye for Big Dan but Giants gave him the late season promo to AA.


High A:

Tyler Rogers, RHP- 4-0, 2.00, 72 IP, 9.00 K/9, 2.75 BB/9, 2 Saves.  AFL- 0-0, 2.13, 12.2 IP, 4.97 K/9, 1.42 BB/9.  Sidearming RHP was a workhorse out of the San Jose bullpen.  Should move up to AA in 2015.

Ray Black, RHP- 1-0, 2.75, 4 IP, 15.75 K/9, 4.50 BB/9.  Low A- 1-3, 3.73, 31.1 IP, 18.38 K/9, 4.02 BB/9.  Black has a long history of injuries but was healthy in 2014 and hit triple digits with regularity.  Added to the 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.  I see no reason why he should not challenge for a 2015 MLB roster spot.  If he can stay healthy, wouldn't shock me if he was the Giants closer by the end of the 2015 season.

Stephen Johnson, RHP- 7-4, 3.65, 69 IP, 10.04 K/9, 4.70 BB/9, 1 Save.  Hit triple digits in college, but I don't think he does anymore.  Bullpen workhorse for SJ in 2014.  Should move up to AA.

Tyler Mizenko, RHP- 4-3, 3.48, 62 IP, 6.97 K/9, 2.47 BB/9, 14 Saves.  Extreme groundball pitcher.  has done a lot of closing in the lower minors, but probably does not have the stuff to be a MLB closer.  Could eventually be a long man, innings eater in the majors.

Bryce Bandilla, LHP- 0-1, 3.15, 34.1 IP, 12.32 K/9, 4.19 BB/9, 8 Saves.  Came back to SJ after washing out in AA and took over the closer role at the end of the season.  Should get a chance to try AA again in 2015.

Mason McVay, LHP- 0-5, 4.38, 72 IP, 10.38 K/9, 3.25 BB/9, 1 Save.  Big LHP who can go multiple innings.  I think he could still be converted to starter if the need arose.  Should move up to AA in 2015.


Low A:

DJ Snelton, LHP- 4-1, 1.23, 29.1 IP, 9.82 K/9, 4.91 BB/9.  Big, tall lefty with great stuff.  Needs to cut down on the walks.

Carlos Alvarado, RHP- 6-1, 2.03, 62 IP, 7.98 K/9, 1.89 BB/9.  Tall thin RHP 25 years old.  Did not fair well in a late season callup to AA.

Jacob Smith, RHP- 3-5, 2.79, 58 IP, 11.95 K/9, 4.66 BB/9, 5 Saves.  Got hit in an extremely SSS after late callup to SJ.

Short Season:

Eduardo Encinosa, RHP- 4-1, 2.39, 26.1 IP, 7.52 K/9, 3.42 BB/9, 1 Save.  Big RHP out of Miami.  Has pitched well, but in very few innings since being drafted 3 years ago.

Eury Sanchez, RHP- 3-3, 3.48, 33.2 IP, 13.37 K/9, 4.01 BB/9, 14 Saves.  Small RHP, DSL graduate with big K numbers.

Rookie AZL:

Greg Brody, RHP- 1-1, 0.63, 14.1 IP, 16.95 K/9, 1.88 BB/9, 2 Saves.  College Closer, 11'th round draft pick out of Belmont.  Nice pro start in a very SSS.

Sam Coonrod, RHP- 1-0, 0.63, 27.2 IP, 8.13 K/9, 1.95 BB/9.  Hard throwing RHP drafted in round 5. Started 5 games out of 15 appearances in Arizona, but probably projects more as a MLB reliever.  Reputation for wildness so the BB/9 is encouraging albeit at a low level.

All in all, the Giants farm system has a generous supply of hard throwing, projectable bullpen arms with a nice distribution between RHP's and LHP's.  The farm system should provide a steady supply of bullpen pieces that can be supplemented by "dumpster dives" thus keeping the cost of maintaining the bullpen down while remaining competitive for the foreseeable future.


  1. Since Romo graduated a few years, if I remember correctly, we haven't sent anyone who we drafted from our farm to the parent club.

    I think

    Kontos - trade
    Strickland - minor league free agent
    Cordier - the same
    Machi - the same
    Petit - the same
    Casilla - the same

    Hopefully, this will change with the group of Law, Okert, Black, Hall, etc., though there is nothing wrong with reclamation projects who have really contributed mightily. (Makes following prospect more fun, for selfish reason).

    1. Well, there is a reason why reliever prospects are generally not rated highly by prospect analysts.

    2. But when they come through, with the teams drafted them or otherwise, they can be very useful, like the KC bullpen or ours.

    3. Absolutely. I would also add that the Giants appear to have put more emphasis on drafting high velocity arms that profile as relievers in recent years. We are about to find out if that strategy is going to pay off.

    4. I think we know what Bochy wants for his bullpen for Christmas.

    5. "there is a reason why reliever prospects are generally not rated highly by prospect analysts."

      Know anybody that rated Heath Hembree #2 in the Giants system last year?

    6. Somebody liked him well enough to trade Jake Peavy for him.

    7. Hembree had a little company on his flight out to Boston last July.

    8. Yep, and both Hembree and Escobar pitched for the Red Sox.

  2. The current Giants pen features more finesse, ground ball inducing pitchers, while the next wave of relievers are more of the traditional flame throwing closer types. While the current pen has been effective, I am more confident in a pen when the arms coming on at the end of the game have shut down, blow them away, strikeout ability.

    1. Tony Blengino over at Fangraphs did an in-depth statistical analysis of why the Giants succeed when on the surface it looks like they should not. It turned out that one of the major factors in their success was the combination of groundball inducing pitching and exceptional infield defense. As we saw with Strickland in the postseason, velocity alone is no panacea.

      Again, despite their reputation for being not sabermetrically savvy, Bochy and Sabean have found a 2 major undervalued commodities, infield defense and soft-tossing groundball inducing relievers and meshed them together into a powerful force!

  3. Plans for 3B? I would like to try Hector over there in spring training and have him compete with Duffy. Thoughts on this?

    1. Well, if I was Hector, I would be taking infield at 3B with an infielder's glove, but if I'm Brian Sabean, I would not want to depend on Hector to be a major option for the position. Much as I like Hector and want him to find a safer place to play than catcher, we're getting into pipe dream territory if we're talking about him being anything more than an emergency option at 3B.

    2. Is Duvall really so bad at 3rd that we'd rather try a backup catcher there?
      With Ehire, that combo could mimic the lf situation this year. Maybe a platoon depending on gb tendencies of the sp.

    3. Yeah, I think Duvall is that bad at 3B, but no, I do not think Hector Sanchez is the answer either.

  4. I'd bring a guy like Ronald Belisario in for cheap. A minor league deal would be great but wouldn't count on it. He's Santiago Casilla material.

    In addition to Lincecum (Petit wins the starting nod because he's better), Lopez, Affeldt, Casilla; I'd have a nice little competition in camp for the other three spots between Kontos, Machi, Strickland, a Belisario type guy, Hall, Okert, and whoever else id up for the challenge. When all the dust settles, one or two spots will be reserved for guys that have options. DFA some bodies or trade if/when necessary.

    Probably don't need to spend much here, save that coin for the starter, 3B, and OF/bench.

    1. I don't know about Belisario. He's been pretty bad for awhile now.

  5. a's trade donaldson to jays


    1. Yeah, another head scratcher from Billy. Looks like he is throwing in the towel on 2015, but then why on Earth did he sign Billy Butler?

    2. i gave up trying to figure out beane long ago

      he went for it this past season and it blew up in his face

      he works for two guys who dont really seem to care all that much about winning, as their small market team status gives them a revenue stream that they are happy with

      so billy gets to play fantasy baseball for real every year

      sometimes it works out...sometimes it dont

      but its always interesting


  6. If we lose Romo for anything under 6$million I'll be pissed. I think people think he's gonna command $8 or something. Hello we trying to repeat! Sign K-Rod and move Romo to that 8th inning role he thrived in. Newsflash Lincecum is starting 2015 in the rotation, Petit is the LR. And do y'all really trust Strickland over Romo?So in my world its K-Rod, Romo, Affeldt, Lopez, Casilla, Petit locks. Leaving Machi, Kontos, Strickland to fight for one spot. THAT is a lockdown pen. Now if Timmy fails again move Petit up mid-season.

    1. OK, well, if the Giants can get Romo back for under $6 M, then I'd be good with it too. I don't think that is going to happen though. Romo is likely going to get a multi-year for more than $6 M per. The Giants can wait out the market with the bullpen. I'm going to do a post on the Rule 5 draft. Watch that one closely. It is chock full of bullpen arms that hit 100 MPH. There is at least 1 guy in particular who I think the Giants may be targeting there. Plus, there are always Juan Gutierrez types to be had on minor league deals right up to spring training.

      Once again, the Giants can't do anything right in some people's eyes. I have had more than one commenter on this site complain that they overpay their bullpen and now you want to pay even more!

      Oh, and no, I do not trust Strickland over Romo, but Strickland is not the only alternative option.