The Giants’ bullpen, which has added a few arms from Triple-A without options, has not been as deep this season as it is now.
Which led to the club optioning a lefty with a 0.49 ERA.
Caleb Baragar was the pick to squeeze Mike Yastrzemski back onto the 26-man roster, Gabe Kapler announced before Sunday’s finale at Nationals Park, which restores the balance of 13 position players and 13 pitchers.
Baragar was fresh off a beer shower for his first career save Saturday, in which he had some help from Victor Robles’ poor baserunning. It was Baragar’s first appearance this month and off the injured list and the 21st game out of 22 that he has not allowed an earned run. He’s let up one earned run — four overall — in 18 1/3 innings, with 14 strikeouts and too many (11) walks. He has not been shutdown, but he has pitched well in big spots. Hitters are 3-for-15 against him with runners in scoring position, and the potential tying run Saturday night was stranded on third.
And yet, Conner Menez threw two more scoreless innings earlier in the game, running his total to 10. Jarlin Garcia followed Menez with a scoreless frame and hasn’t been touched in 10 innings, either. Jose Alvarez threw two scoreless innings in the first game of the doubleheader. Throw in Jake McGee, and there are four reliable southpaws in the group (not including Sammy Long), and Baragar is option-able.
With righties Dominic Leone and Jimmie Sherfy added to the mix this month, the club is getting a look at its bullpen weapons before the trade deadline comes, when a closer might be needed.
How does Kapler tell a pitcher with Baragar’s numbers that he’s getting demoted?
“Just kind of understanding the good work that he’s done for us and letting him know that he’s a big part of our team,” the manager said over Zoom. “And we expect him to be on our roster making contributions at some point in the near future.”
Kapler also pointed out that the Giants are in the midst of 13 games in 13 days — from Washington, they come home for four against Arizona and three against Philadelphia — and Menez, Garcia and Alvarez offer more length.
The Giants’ lineup featured Brandon Crawford a day after the shortstop was scratched because of some cramping.
“He felt like he was good to go,” Kapler said.
It also featured Mike Tauchman batting leadoff for the first time in June. Kapler wanted to give LaMonte Wade Jr. a day off, and he opted for a leadoff batter who has averaged 4.62 pitches per plate appearance, which would lead MLB if he had enough at-bats to qualify. Chicago’s Yoan Moncada is first at 4.46.
Tauchman’s defense has legitimately saved two games and his grand slam in Texas last week accounted for another victory. Yet, he’s 4-for-30 (.133) this month, and that homer has been his only extra-base hit.
Asked if there were an element of shaking up his batting-order spot to get him going, Kapler said: “I think we want to continue to instill confidence in players wherever we can. The one thing that has been very consistent with Tauchman throughout his time with the Giants is the plate discipline, the seeing pitches, the finding a way to get on base via the walk, the scratching and the clawing.”
The full lineup against Joe Ross:
1. Mike Tauchman, LF
2. Mike Yastrzemski, RF
3. Buster Posey, C
4. Brandon Crawford, SS
5. Wilmer Flores, 3B
6. Brandon Belt, 1B
7. Donovan Solano, 2B
8. Steven Duggar, CF
9. Johnny Cueto, P