The San Francisco Giants' bullpen hasn’t handled the final three outs of games well lately.
After the latest disastrous loss, a 2-1 decision against the Los Angeles Dodgers in which they yielded two runs in the bottom of the ninth, the Giants are back to even with the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League wild-card race.
More concerning than that: Of the past nine times that the Giants took a lead into the ninth inning, they’ve lost five of them. No other team has lost more than one such game this month. According to research by he Elias Sports Bureau, the most recent team to lose five such games in a calendar month is the 1992 Mets.
The Giants’ 29 blown saves are the most by the franchise since the save stat became official in 1969.
Bruce Bochy has tried various strategies, whether it be Santiago Casilla or a bullpen by committee. None has worked. Hunter Strickland, the latest pitcher used by Bochy to try to close the door, has allowed four runs and five hits in two-thirds of an inning in his past two appearances. Casilla, unused this time, has an 8.10 ERA, four saves and four blown saves in his past 12 appearances (with four home runs allowed in 10 innings).
Strategic maneuvering not working
Bochy seems intent on going for the best matchup batter-to-batter. On Monday, he hooked recently activated Derek Law for Javier Lopez to face lefty Corey Seager after Law allowed a leadoff hit in the ninth inning.
Law, a right-hander entered the game with one run and 12 hits allowed over 23 innings in his past 26 appearances. Law’s platoon splits are good. Left-handed hitters have a .184 on-base percentage against him, the second-lowest among the 166 right-handed pitchers who have faced at least 50 lefties.
Some of this would be moot if the Giants could hit. They were shut out on Sunday and managed one run, albeit against Clayton Kershaw on Monday.
The Giants have been shut out eight times since the All-Star break. There are a dozen teams that haven’t been shut out eight times all season. Alas, that’s another flaw that the Giants have a dire need to address.
Elias Sports Bureau stat of the day
The Giants have 29 blown saves. The most blown saves by a team that made the postseason is 29, by the NL champion 2007 Rockies.