My god what an ugly loss that was.
Did the corpse of Darin Erstad really hit a 3-run home run to tie the game? Erstad hasn’t been a good hitter in almost 7 years now and he knocks a 3-run shot to knot the game? The Fangraph for this game was particularly horrific. Click with caution.
2001 – 82
2002 – 86
2003 – 72
2004 – 97
2005 – 87
2006 – 57
2007 – 68
When the Astros signed Erstad this year for $1M I was really surprised. Even as a 5th OF or PH he’s not worth that money but that’s the beauty of Ed Wade. I guess if baseball has shown us anything, it’s that any one can get lucky and run into one. The Giants bullpen ERA now stands at 24th in the majors at 4.39. That’s not good enough for a team that can’t score runs and doesn’t play sparkling defense. If the Giants can get a lead, the bullpen must protect it because they don’t have the firepower to go toe-to-toe with teams and play catchup.
This is also brings me back to the subject of Tyler Walker who I’ve always felt has been overrated by Giants fans. I’m almost certain he’s one of the “good guys” in the game and he’s a local kid, but his career numbers are very middle of the road and not someone I would want to use in high leverage situations — which let’s face it, he wasn’t in a high leverage situation until he gave up 4 runs in .2 IP.
Let’s take a quick look at some of Tyler Walker’s underlying career numbers in the form of K%, BB%, GB%, FB%, and LD%
Year K% BB% GB% FB% LD% Career 18.1 9.1 39.3 39.6 21.1
Walker has a slightly above average strikeout rate but he also has a slightly above average walk rate. He’s a flyball pitcher that gives up as many flyballs as he does groundballs and his line drive percentage is right around the league average of 20%.
To me, those look like the numbers of a middle reliever and not someone I’d necessarily want to use in high leverage or close game situations. Walker has a career FIP of 4.43 which when considering that 98% of his career work has come from the bullpen, isn’t very impressive. Because starting is harder than relieving, pitchers will usually post better stats from the bullpen.
The Giants won’t remove Walker from his 8th inning duties just yet after his meltdown but it’s something to keep an eye on. With Hennessey throwing BP every time he’s taken the mound this year and Merkin Valdez moving to the 15-day DL with an elbow strain, the Giants don’t have many options to slot into 8th inning duties right now.
Here’s some options that I like to replace Walker in the 8th inning.
Billy Sadler – Great stuff with control problems. Sadler, a teammate of Brian Wilson at LSU, has always been able to strike hitters out — career K/9 of 10.41 in the minors — but he’s also battled control problems as well — career BB/9 of 5.41 in the minors. There’s a lot to like about Sadler’s arm and if he can ever get his control near acceptable levels, his swing-through stuff could play in the late innings.
Chances of claiming the 8th inning this year? – I’ll stick him at 20%. Sadler has control problems to overcome before the Giants will move him to a more important role but his potential is huge.
Alex Hinshaw – You might start to notice a trend with Giants relievers. Hinshaw has good stuff but also has control problems. In 148.2 career minor league innings pitched he’s got a K/9 of 10.99 but a BB/9 of 6.19. This lanky lefty has looked good this year while serving as AAA Fresno’s closer. His ’08 line from AAA this year looks like this: 7 S, 15.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 4 BB, 21 SO. The sample is small but it’s nice to see him cut his walks down. The strikeouts are also inline with his career numbers. Like Sadler, Hinshaw’s progression to a more important role depends on his ability to cut his walks and maintain his strikeouts.
Chances of claiming the 8th inning this year? - He just got called up, so at least his chances are initially good if he can pitch well — he struck out the only hitter he faced yesterday, the lefty Michael Bourn — but I doubt that Bochy will put a rookie in the 8th inning role or be able to cure himself of his matchupitis. Because of the Bochy hurdle, I’ll put him at 15% initially with a chance to move to 30% if he pitches well during this callup.
Sergio Romo – I absolutely love Romo and despite an average fastball, he’s been getting it done for four years in the minor leagues. Even though Romo is currently in AA, he’s my darkhorse candidate to get some serious time in the Giants bullpen this year. Over 4 years in the minor leagues Romo has displayed elite command — walking only 1.57 per 9 innings — and the ability to strikeout hitters — 9.96 K’s per 9 — even if he doesn’t light up the radar gun. Romo’s command and control allow him to place all of his pitches wherever he wants in the strike zone. His pitching motion has some deception to it and he throws from various arm angles. His ability to strikeout batters and not issue the free pass make him a very attractive bullpen member. Key your eye on Romo, he’s currently pitching great in AA as the Defenders closer. Line of: 8 S, 14.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 HR, 1 BB, 13 SO
Chances of claiming the 8th inning this year? - I’m pushing Romo to 45% just because I like him so much and he appears to have all the tools to succeed in a bullpen role. The only roadblock might be the Giants and how they view him. They’ve tended to move him one level at a time and they’ve never promoted him during a season even though he’s always pitched strongly. The Giants might have some doubts about how his “stuff” will play at the next level but Romo has done everything and more to cement his status as a very interesting pitching prospect.
A very frustrating loss yesterday after Lincecum struck out 10 through 6. The Giants need the bullpen to be in the top half of the league if they want to win games. As it stands, they’re in the bottom half right now and it cost them a game yesterday.
Keep in mind that of the three pitchers I’ve listed above I didn’t talk about Kelvin Pichardo or Osiris Matos. Pichardo and Matos are already on the Giants 40-man roster and might get the call before someone like Romo who’s not. If Merkin Valdez comes back healthy he could be a serious candidate for a setup role. Bochy has made some statements early in the season about increasing his role but it all hinges on how healthy his arm is. The Giants might chose to keep Keichi Yabu in a long relief role but he should be the first to get optioned or released if they need room for a younger prospect.
Comment Starter: Who would you move into the 8th inning?
Link Update: A.J. Pierzynski says he’s not so bad. The White Sox roll into town tonight and it’ll be interesting, to say the least, to see the fan reaction towards A.J.