Giants roster breakdown: Bullpen could be filled with former starters

Giants roster breakdown: Bullpen could be filled with former starters

It might not surprise you that Jeff Samardzija led the 2019 Giants in wins or that Madison Bumgarner finished second. But even the most diehard Giants fans might have trouble naming the pitcher who ranked third. 

Picked up in a deal with the Washington Nationals that cost the Giants just cash considerations, right-hander Trevor Gott went 7-0 in his first season with the Giants. This year, Gott and other similar relievers have a real shot at leading the club in that category, which might be hated by statisticians but still is important to players. 

This will be the year of the reliever, and likely the year of the multi-inning reliever. The Giants feel they're prepared for it and ready to carry a large and varied collection of swingmen who can supplement whatever the rotation looks like.

Over the last two days we previewed catchers and starters. Here's a look at the relievers coming to Summer Camp.

Closer Candidates

Gott certainly has the stuff to pitch late in games, and he could end up as one of new manager Gabe Kapler's top setup men. There are two others, however, who look more likely to pile up saves. 

Tony Watson has experience and is the veteran leader of the bullpen. The lefty was going to miss the start of the year with shoulder tightness but has had three extra months to recover. Still, it's worth noting that Kapler has mentioned a couple of times this week that Watson might be slightly behind other pitchers in camp. We'll find out soon what that truly means. 

Since the start of shelter-in-place, Kapler has repeatedly raved about Tyler Rogers, who wasn't even given a shot by the previous regime but dominated in a September cameo. Rogers was sharp this spring and is working on weapons to stymie left-handers.

The Giants probably won't even name a true closer, but Rogers might be your best bet if you're playing in a fantasy league. For what it's worth, Rogers was his ninth-inning guy when Kapler was posting screenshots from MLB: The Show simulations he was doing in April.

All three of these relievers are locks for the 30-man roster and should regularly see work in the late innings. 

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The Starters-Turned-Relievers

Just about the whole bullpen might be made up of these types. 

Shaun Anderson, Dereck Rodriguez, Andrew Suarez and Conner Menez have started games for the Giants the past two years and should be able to contribute in multi-inning stints out of the bullpen. Even Sam Coonrod qualifies; he only once pitched more than an inning as a rookie but was a pretty good starting prospect before having Tommy John surgery. 

Newcomers Trevor Cahill, Rico Garcia, Trevor Oaks, Luis Madero and Andrew Triggs have starting experience, along with Carlos Navas, who spent last year with Double-A Richmond and Triple-A Sacramento. 

The Giants plan to have multi-inning backups for all of their starters initially and could use the strategy to take down nine innings on a regular basis. That puts all of these guys in the mix, and it's possible you'll see all of them over 60 games. You can expect quite a few roster moves this season to provide fresh arms. 

The Left-Handers

Few did more to potentially earn jobs this spring than Jarlin Garcia and Wandy Peralta. Garcia, picked up from the Miami Marlins in the offseason, struck out eight over five scoreless innings. Peralta pitched in eight games for the Giants last year and struck out 10 over his five scoreless Cactus League innings. 

The Giants are going all-in on matchups and platoons, and both of these guys seem like good fits alongside Watson. In addition to Suarez and Menez, the Giants have Sam Selman from the left side. He made 10 appearances last year. 

[RELATED: First look at Oracle Park's new bullpens]

The Rule 5 Pick

Normally a Rule 5 pick has to spend at least 90 days on the active roster in order to be kept the following year, but this year that number has been reduced to 50. That still means the Giants will have to carry right-hander Dany Jimenez for most of the season if they want to keep his rights. 

Jimenez had mixed results in the spring and hasn't pitched above Double-A, but it shouldn't be too hard for the Giants to roster him initially with four extra spots. While they expect to compete, there also should be some innings that Jimenez can soak up in blowouts the first two weeks. That's when the decision will get more complicated.

The Giants must reduce their roster to 28 after two weeks and then cut down to 26 one month into the season. If they're off to a good start, can they afford to keep a Rule 5 pick over a more experienced player? Jimenez's future will be tied to how he pitches, but also to a large extent may be determined by the team's record through one month. 

Looking to Break Through

Tyler Cyr, a 27-year-old Bay Area native, is looking at his best shot at making his big league debut. Cyr made just three spring appearances before getting reassigned on March 6, but the staff is bringing him back for a second look. 

Cyr looked like he would debut in 2018 but he fractured his elbow and missed the rest of that season. He returned to Double-A last year and had a 2.05 ERA and 10.6 strikeouts-per-nine before joining the Sacramento River Cats for the end of their postseason run.

Giants plan to add player names to back of home jerseys in 2021 season

Giants plan to add player names to back of home jerseys in 2021 season

The Giants can simultaneously be the most recognizable and the most anonymous team in the National League. 

If he wanted to, manager Gabe Kapler could send out a lineup that would have been normal way back in 2012: Brandon Belt at first, Brandon Crawford at short, Pablo Sandoval at third, and Hunter Pence in the outfield. Back in spring training, those four shared a clubhouse with Buster Posey, too. 

At the same time, the Giants often start groups that look more like the half of a split-squad that's headed out to Glendale for the late game of a spring training doubleheader. They used 64 players last year, a National League record, and a lot of them weren't even in town long enough for fans to learn their first name. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

In a nod to that latter issue, the organization will make a significant change to the home jerseys next season. Team president and CEO Larry Baer told the San Francisco Chronicle's Bruce Jenkins that the organization decided earlier this summer to put player names on the backs of home jerseys.

"Part of it is the substantial roster turnover we've had, but it's also about the way people consume games now," Baer said. "You'd like to believe everybody's sitting down in front of the TV for three hours of Kruk & Kuip, but between social media, Twitter, highlights availability, a lot of people tune in for 20 minutes and then go do something else. The game's on the screen, but they aren't necessarily paying attention. If they're a casual fan, they don't want to have to figure out if that's Alex Dickerson or Mike Yastrzemski."

[RELATED: Battle of the Bay has extra meaning in shorter MLB season]

Teams are not allowed to change their jerseys during the season, so the new look won't go into effect until 2021. The current one is an homage to the team that arrived from San Francisco in 1958 and was a favorite of former owner Peter Magowan. 

It made more sense earlier this decade, but roster turnover has become a big part of the weekly routine at Oracle Park under new president Farhan Zaidi. There were a lot of misses, but that helped the Giants find Dickerson and Yastrzemski, two players who are key parts of this year's lineup and will have their long last names on their backs by this time next year. 

Giants vs. A's MLB live stream: How to watch Battle of the Bay online, on TV

Giants vs. A's MLB live stream: How to watch Battle of the Bay online, on TV

The Battle of the Bay is here.

The Giants (8-12) welcome their Bay Area rival A's (13-6) to Oracle Park for a three-game weekend series. The Giants are coming off a tough 10-game road trip where they went just 3-7, losing two out of three to the Houston Astros in their last series.

Oakland lost two of their last three to the Los Angeles Angels, but won nine straight before that. However, they will be without Ramón Laureano for the series, as the A's outfielder will start serving his suspension Friday night after it was reduced from six to four games upon appeal.

Here's how you can watch the Giants play the A's online (download the MyTeams app here!) and on TV:

Friday, Aug. 14

Giants broadcast

When: Giants Pregame Live at 6 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 6:45 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Bay Area
Stream: MyTeams app

A's broadcast

When: A's Pregame Live at 6 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 6:45 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports California
Stream: MyTeams app

Saturday, Aug. 15

When: First pitch at 4:07 p.m. PT
Stream: FuboTV - Get a free trial

Sunday, Aug. 16

Giants broadcast

When: Giants Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 1:05 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Bay Area
Stream: MyTeams app

A's broadcast

When: A's Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 1:05 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports California
Stream: MyTeams app

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]