When it came to finishing games, the Giants’ bullpen was an unmitigated disaster in 2016, blowing a league-leading 30 saves during the regular season. To fix their ninth-inning issues, the Giants signed closer Mark Melancon to a $62 million contract this offseason, but question marks still remain as to how the rest of the bullpen is going to shape out.
The Giants let three veteran relievers – Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez and Santiago Casilla – walk in the offseason, leaving a number of relatively inexperienced pitchers fighting for roles behind Melancon in spring training. One of those pitchers is Josh Osich, who has struggled so far in Scottsdale, racking up a 9.82 ERA in 3 and 2/3 innings pitched.
Despite that, Giants beat writer Henry Schulman believes Osich is one of the most talented pitchers in the organization, and may have the stuff to be a closer in the future.
“In a completely ideal world I think he’s a closer,” Schulman told Murph and Mac when asked what Osich’s ceiling is. “I mean he has some of the best stuff in the organization. The reason I say closer is because he does have the ability to get lefties and righties out.
“He just seems mechanically off. When you see pitches in the dirt that aren’t supposed to be in the dirt, that’s a sign that the mechanics may be off a little bit and that’s one of the things they work on here. Like (Bruce) Bochy says, like (Dave) Righetti was saying, this is the time when you’re supposed to clean that stuff up. It’s really the last 10 days of spring, even counting the A’s games you have up in the Bay Area, that’s when you really want to see what your team should look like when the season starts, and that’s when people get a little bit nervous when the performances aren’t there.”
The entire bullpen has looked a bit off this spring according to Schulman, something he sees as a bigger concern than the club’s early struggles at the plate, where they are hitting a collective .237 in 11 games.
“What I’m seeing that I think might be a bigger issue is these relief pitchers who are supposed to make up the backbone of the bullpen, supposed to be getting the ball to (Mark) Melancon, to have cleaner innings, and they’re not,” Schulman said. “There really might not be a competition for jobs there but there is a competition for roles, and right now Derek Law, Hunter Strickland and Will Smith are supposed to be the eighth inning guys. Well, we haven’t even seen Will Smith because he’s had that elbow injury that he’s coming along from and a lot of the other guys are giving up runs. Now Derek Law had a great outing the last time I saw him. You know Cory Gearrin’s given up some runs – he gave up a run yesterday.
“I think Osich had a clean inning, but if you’re looking at the day-by-days of a lot of these pitchers, you’re not seeing a lot of zeros, and I think that’s something more than the hitting that I would think the management would like to see cleaned up so they can have a firmer choice about what they’re going to do before they can get the ball to Melancon.”