The Giants announced the 51 players who will be eligible to make the Opening Day roster on Monday morning, a pool of players that will be whittled down to 30 by the end of July.
On a team still fully in the midst of a rebuild, many roles remain undetermined. Who will close games for the Giants certainly falls in that category, considering Will Smith, arguably the team’s best player last year, signed with the Braves this offseason.
That doesn’t mean the competition is wide open. Giants manager Gabe Kapler identified the two frontrunners — one largely unproven, one veteran — on Tolbert, Krueger and Brooks Monday
“During spring training Tyler Rogers emerged as a guy who can take really important pockets of the opponent’s lineups, because he’s got through left-handed hitters and right-handed hitters, induce ground balls and get uncomfortable swings,” Kapler said of the submarine pitcher who made his major-league debut with the Giants last year. “There’s no real stretch in anybody’s lineup that would be overwhelming for Rog. He’s a good candidate.”
Rogers was dominant in his 17 appearances with the big league club last year, baffling opposing hitters with his unorthodox delivery to the tune of a 1.02 ERA.
His competition according to Kapler has 589 more appearances under his belt.
“Having Tony Watson on a roster is a real plus. Because of the experience, because he’s been so effective against left-handed batters for so many years and for various clubs. It’s nice to know that if you are facing two or three lefties in a row, he’s a guy that you can have take down that pocket of a lineup, but he’s also effective against righties. Both of those guys are good options.”
Still, Kapler is not certain that a 60 game season will call for a traditional closer.
“The one thing I just want to make clear is while if somebody emerges as a surefire closer option for us, a guy that fits the ninth inning, we’ll absolutely put that person in that role. However, we want these guys to be flexible to take down multiple innings, because as you guys know, we’re not going to have our starters built up by the end of camp to take five, six, seven innings, so we’re going to need a little more bulk from some of our relievers.
“To the degree that they’re able to go potentially one-plus, or even two, we’re really going to appreciate that. Guys like Tyler, (Watson), others who can give us some length, those guys are going to be especially valuable. We don’t want to them to be locked into one specific role, particularly early in the season.”
Listen to the full interview below.