During this massive second half slide the Giants have shown they have other issues other than the bullpen. The offense has been anemic since the All-Star break and the back end of the rotation has been spotty at best, but nothing draws the ire from fans and the front office alike more than a blown lead in the ninth. It’s technically not more important than any other inning, but it’s symbolic of the overall troubles.
The Giants do need a change at closer and it’s probably a long time coming. Bruce Bochy was reduced to using nine relievers last night against the Rockies and three of those in the ninth inning alone. Personnel aside, that’s just not appealing to a baseball fan when there is a stoppage in play every time Dave Righetti and Bruce Bochy deem it necessary to change the pitcher.
The strength of the Giants during the Bochy era has been the bullpen. It was a mix of veteran relievers that had experience and could get outs when it mattered most. The Giants had three different closers in all three of their World Series wins. It was Brian Wilson in 2010 before he had to have Tommy John surgery. Sergio Romo then took over that role in 2012 until he, much like Santiago Casilla, became inconsistent enough to warrant a change. Even a team that has won three titles in five years can have issues with their bullpen so a change at this juncture is not unheard of. If anything, it has been par for the course for the Giants.
The options are limited in terms of qualified candidates. Derek Law would have been the obvious choice, but an injury derailed any thought of that. Hunter Strickland is still a bit too young, but definitely has closer type stuff. George Kontos is 31 and has been on the Giants for the past five years, earning the trust of Bochy. One of the new additions is actually a very strong alternative in Joe Nathan. Although he gave up the hit to win it last night in Denver, he’s had experience in that spot. Putting in a young guy could backfire because of their lack of experience so they need a veteran at the back end of the ‘pen. He’s closed for 10 years on various playoff teams, which is more than anybody on the Giants’ pitching staff can boast.
If I had to chose today, it would be Nathan for the 9th.
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