Coming into the season the San Francisco Giants bullpen was seen as one of the strengths of the team. It started off that way. However, during the Giants recent downhill tumble the bullpen has become not quite unreliable but certainly isn’t what it was the first two months of the season. What happened to the Giants bullpen? Also, what else is going on with the team as the trade deadline comes closer?
Even with their struggles, the Giants are still 4th in baseball with an ERA of 2.90, but watching the bullpen during this recent stretch it’s obvious that they have faded. Two players who were so good for them over the first part of the season; Jean Machi and closer Sergio Romo have both fallen upon hard times and Giants Manager Bruce Bochy has taken them out of their former roles of eighth inning set-up man and closer.
Machi for the longest time was an All-Star caliber pitcher as he had a 27 plus inning scoreless streak and had an ERA of under .35. However, he hasn’t been nearly as sharp recently. In his last 5 and 2/3 innings pitched he’s given up 6 earned runs and has seen his ERA rise to 1.66. Former closer Romo was money, up until about three weeks ago. In fact, going into the three game home series against the Colorado Rockies on June 13-15 he was 22/24 in save opportunities. He blew back to back saves in that series; the Giants lost both games. Since then he hasn’t been the same. With both him and Machi struggling it begs the question: will Brian Sabean make a trade at the deadline for a bullpen arm, or will he let those two work through their issues?
Should GM Brian Sabean choose to bolster his bullpen there’s quite a few names that could potentially come available that could help the team. Arms like Koji Uehara of the Boston Red Sox, Joaquin Benoit of the San Diego Padres and Joaquin Soria are probably the three most known arms. However, there’s more solid arms out there as well that the Giants haven’t been linked to yet.
Even though the bullpen has recently become a little bit of an issue, the center-field position and possibly second base look to be even bigger issues. Ever since Angel Pagan went on the disabled list with an injured back the leadoff and center field spot has been a black hole. The Giants are forced to play fourth and fifth outfielders Gregor Blanco and Juan Perez more than they wanted to. Both of those guys have struggled to make an impact on the team. Giants All-Star Hunter Pence has done an admirable job batting leadoff, but in order for the Giants to make the playoffs they need to add an outfielder and a leadoff hitter, as Pagan’s return date is questionable and even when he returns, will he remain healthy?
Adding another leadoff hitter and outfielder gives the Giants more depth, which is key to any team making a playoff run. Pagan has a bulging disk in his back and even though it’s been thought that he will return after the All-Star break, it’s not a certainty. Getting another leadoff hitter and center fielder can put Pence back in his normal role of a run producer as opposed to a table setter.
The one leadoff hitter that has been linked to the Giants by CBS Sports Jon Heyman is Ben Revere. He said that the Giants could easily pursue him if Pagan’s status remains uncertain. Revere would be the perfect leadoff hitter in Pagans absence. He’s hitting 292 and has 26 stolen bases. He doesn’t walk a whole lot, but also doesn’t strike out. He understands that he’s fast and he puts the ball in play on the ground. He pretty much does what the Giants want Blanco to do. He’d also be an improvement over Blanco as he’s a better hitter and faster. That’d be the kind of leadoff hitter the Giants could easily go after.
Another position that is still dicey is second base. Rookie Joe Panik has done a great job filling in for Marco Scutaro, but he’s a rookie and has been inconsistent. However, good news is on the horizon as Scutaro has been activated and is scheduled to start Saturday vs Arizona. Whether he’ll be an everyday player or a utility man remains unknown, but if he can return and be a 270 clutch hitter and a mentor to Panik, who is the Giants second baseman of the future, than the Giants would be fine at that position.
Even with Scutaro coming back, the Giants are testing the trade market. Ben Zobrist has been an interest to the Giants as they sent scouts down to Tampa to check him out. Zobrist has always been a solid player and he’s having another good year with 270 and 6 home runs. He’s certainly an intriguing option for the Giants. As is New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy. Murphy is batting 297 with 7 home runs and 37 RBI’S and is an All-Star. He’d be a great fit for the Giants as well.
Even with the recent slide that the Giants have been on they are still tied for first place with the Los Angeles Dodgers. There’s a good chance that the Giants could be in first place or at the very minimum 2 games out going into the All-Star break, which wouldn’t be that bad considering everything that’s gone on. General Manager Brain Sabean has always been good at making the key moves for players who help the Giants make a playoff push. He certainly has alot of options out there to consider at the trade deadline.