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How Giants’ strange bullpen configuration is working remarkably well so far


Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports


Can the Giants’ lefty relievers solve their problem with righty relievers?

Of course, that question presupposes that the Giants view it as a problem.

First Rule 5 pick Dedniel Nunez required Tommy John surgery toward the end of camp, and then Reyes Moronta was placed on the injured list Sunday. The Giants are down to two righties in their bullpen, one struggling mightily and the other the least traditional righty possible.

The former is Matt Wisler, who throws sliders repeatedly and has gotten hit repeatedly to start the season. Last year he allowed three runs in 25 1/3 innings; this year he’s allowed six runs in 1 2/3 innings. The latter is Tyler Rogers, the submariner who led pitchers in appearances last year and might make a run at repeating this year.

“We’re going to have to cover leverage innings from time to time with guys not named [Jake] McGee and Rogers,” Gabe Kapler acknowledged before opening a series with the Reds at Oracle Park on Monday.

The Giants did not add a righty like Silvino Bracho or Dominic Leone or Zack Littell to their 40- and 26-man roster when Moronta went down, instead calling up outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr. For the foreseeable future, they’re going to stick with five southpaws and only two righties, a strange configuration but one that makes a bit more sense with the three-batter minimum: matchup relievers are on the outs.

If the Giants needed a tough righty to get out, they wouldn’t be able to turn to one solely for the batter. Instead, they are confident with their lefty relievers’ effectiveness against all hitters — and with good reason so far.

Opposing righty batters are 1-for-27 (.037) against Giants lefties this season with four walks and 13 strikeouts. It’s the best mark in baseball and it doesn’t seem to be luck-based, with opposing righty batters posting a .118 expected batting average against Giants southpaws.

Jose Alvarez is the lone lefty reliever who has allowed a hit to a righty. McGee, Wandy Peralta, Caleb Baragar and Jarlin Garcia have been shutdown against the batters supposed to tee off on them.

“One thing that we can say with our lefties is: They have weapons to get lefties and righties out,” Kapler said, with his bullpen ranking ninth in baseball entering play with a 3.51 ERA. “…Those weapons can be sinkers and sliders and changeups, and the changeup is a real equalizer oftentimes, so in particular with Alvarez and I think it’s true for for Jarlin Garcia as well, Peralta as well. That changeup can be a nice weapon to get right-handed hitters out.”

McGee, of course, has been the best, tossing 5 1/3 no-hit innings thus far. Baragar, though, is impressing with the same look — a relentless dose of fastballs — and has not allowed a run in 19 straight appearances, dating back to last year.

“Sometimes we’re just going to pick the best pitcher for that pocket of hitters instead of traditionally trying to match up,” Kapler said, and there’s reason to believe it can work.


Mike Yastrzemski was getting the day off Monday against a tough lefty in Wade Miley. Kapler said they had eyed this game for a while as a potential day to give him a breather. After Thursday’s off day, they play 13 days in a row.

The lineup:

1. Austin Slater, RF
2. Donovan Solano, 2B
3. Darin Ruf, LF
4. Evan Longoria, 3B
5. Wilmer Flores, 1B
6. Buster Posey, C
7. Mauricio Dubon, CF
8. Brandon Crawford, SS
9. Aaron Sanchez, P

 

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