Caleb Baragar knows the where.
“Houston, I think. Something like that,” he said, accurately.
He does not know the how (long).
“I try not to think about that, to be honest,” he said, when asked if he knew how far he has stretched this streak.
The lefty out of the Giants bullpen has not allowed an earned run since Aug. 12, against the Astros, last season. He finished the year with 16 straight appearances without his ERA taking a hit. The ERA is at 0.00 through 14 games this year. Thirty times Gabe Kapler has asked Baragar to do his job, and 30 straight times, through 25 1/3 innings, Baragar has done so without being charged with an earned run.
“That’s not really something I’m super focused on I guess, keeping that streak alive,” the 27-year-old, second-year major leaguer said. “I’m sure now that we talked about it I’ll end up getting clipped today or sometime this week for a homer, maybe in Cincy. But it’s just part of the game. I’m just trying to go out there and give the team everything that I’ve got.”
It’s been plenty so far, and in a Giants bullpen that has been a work in progress, Baragar has been a rare constant. Lefty Jose Alvarez was placed on the injured list Thursday; lefty Jake McGee started off brilliantly before hitting a funk; lefty Jarlin Garcia has been up and down and had an IL stint. What Tyler Rogers is with righties, Baragar has been with lefties: reliable (if not as everyday as the submariner).
Kapler has been more careful with Baragar, who has been used 14 times in a Giants season that is 37 games long and just twice on back-to-backs.
Baragar has a better idea of the how.
The former minor league starter broke through last year by repeatedly throwing his four-seamer at the top of the zone with a good slider, as well as mixing in a curveball. That last pitch has been pretty much eliminated this year, going with his fastball 80 percent of the time — nearly Jake McGee level — and slider the rest.
Opponents are 9-for-40 (.215) against the four-seamer and 0-for-5 against his slider. He came in Thursday in the sixth after Anthony DeSclafani exited early and used the fastball to strike out Troy Stokes Jr., a slider to nail Adam Frazier and finished off his outing by inducing a flyball from Kevin Newman.
“It’s been a lot more helpful and outings seem to be a lot better when I’m able to locate a breaking ball for a strike and keep those guys off my heater,” Baragar said before the Giants faced off with the Pirates at PNC Park on Friday.
The results have mostly been perfect, but Baragar hasn’t been. There was an unearned run April 21 in Philadelphia, where Alex Dickerson misplayed a ball, and Baragar pointed out a Sept. 16, 2020, appearance when he walked the bases loaded, but Trevor Cahill bailed him out.
There are more walks than he would like — five in 11 innings this season — but it’s nit-picking when Baragar has entered 30 straight games and not surrendered an earned run.
“I feel like I should know that,” Kapler said with a laugh.
The Giants’ bullpen as a whole has improved as the season has lengthened, entering play with a 4.09 ERA that ranks 21st but a 2.08 mark since May 5. McGee has been up and down, Alvarez and Garcia in and out, but Baragar has been consistent.
“His stuff has come and gone a little bit, but he hasn’t stopped attacking with his pitches,” Kapler said over Zoom. “I think that’s given him an opportunity to have [this] run. … He’s a guy that we depended on last year, and we’re going to continue to depend on going forward.”