The Giants bullpen was one of the teams strengths during all 3 World Series title runs, but it wasn’t the case last season. The core 4 of Lopez, Affeldt, Romo, and Casilla were major contributors and Bochy knew he could rely on all those guys. Affeldt retired at the end of last season and the other 3 were inconsistent. Casilla blew 9 saves and was later removed as closer. Bochy went with a closer committee, but seemed to rely on Romo down the stretch run. Ultimately the Giants bullpen was their Achilles heel as they blew leads in the NLDS vs the Cubs. Coming into spring training the core four are gone. Lopez has retired and will be joining Affeldt in the Giants broadcast booth from time to time, Romo signed with the hated Dodgers, and Santiago Casilla has gone back across the bay to the A’s. The goal this off-season was to sign a closer which they went out and did in Mark Melancon. With Melancon as the closer how does the rest of the bullpen shape up? Let’s take a trip down to the pen.
Battling for a roster spot: Matt Cain/Ty Blach/Albert Suarez – 1 of these 3 guys will be the 5th starter and the other 2 will battle it out to be the long reliever. I’ve got Blach winning the 5th spot moving Matt Cain to the long reliever role. Suarez could also be called on from time to time, but I see him starting in Triple A.
Middle to Late Relievers:
Locked In: George Kontos, Derek Law, Will Smith, Hunter Strickland, Mark Melancon
Fighting for a spot: Cory Gearrin, David Hernandez, Steven Okert, Josh Osich
Bochy will need to decide if he needs another lefty in his bullpen to compliment Will Smith or if he needs another right-handed reliever in the bullpen to add with Kontos, Law, Strickland, and Melancon. Hernandez was brought in to compete with the other right handers, but all the other right handed relievers except Gearrin is guaranteed a roster spot. Hernandez will make $1.5 million if he makes the opening day roster. Out of the lefties Okert and Osich will be battling it out for a spot. Osich had a great season in 2015, but struggled in 2016.
Long Relief: Matt Cain
Middle Left Handed: Josh Osich
Middle Right Handed: Derek Law
Setup Left Handed: Will Smith
Setup Right Handed: Hunter Strickland, George Kontos
Closer: Mark Melancon
I believe Bochy will go with an extra lefty in the pen due to the Dodgers having a lefty heavy lineup and matchups matter a lot towards the late innings. Osich has the experience from 2015 and should come out strong in spring training. I’ve got Derek Law penciled in as locked in, but could be challenged by David Hernandez. Gearrin and Okert will start the season in the minors, but will definitely be the first options if any of the relievers struggle or end up on the DL.