The San Francisco Giants have been playing some great baseball over the month of July. And while they still may seek an offensive addition at the trade deadline, they clearly have a more pressing issue.
San Francisco must fix the bridge to closer Brian Wilson.
It's not just a maybe, it is a must fix problem. If not, then this current, happy go-ride that Giants fans are hoping does not end until the postseason will completely fall apart.
Not only are the two (at times) intimidating southpaws in the San Francisco 'pen both on the DL for an extended period of time but two of the remaining righties are nothing but terrible journeyman relievers with zero clue of where the ball is going after they release a pitch.
Without the services of Jeremy Affeldt and Dan Runzler to face big-time left-handed batters like Andre Ethier, James Loney, and Adrian Gonzalez (to name a few the Giants face in the NL West) the Giants have a bullpen with 100% right-handed relievers.
And of those seven relievers, the only ones proving to the fan base that they are reliable this season are closer Brian Wilson and crafty right-hander Sergio Romo.
After that, the bullpen gets shaky, and fast.
Mid-season acquisition Chris Ray is a former closer for the Baltimore Orioles, but since coming over from Texas in the Bengie Molina trade, he has been rather inconsistent.
He has walked four in 8 1/3 innings since the trade and just hasn't been able to lock down a particular role.
Then there is Guillermo Mota who has been impressive in spurts but the overall numbers of a 3.58 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, and .249 BAA aren't anything special.
So, at this point the Giants have four relievers, all of whom are right handed. Two are quality, two are average.
Everything is fine, an average bullpen so far.
But now here comes the point when things simply bottom out.
Joe Martinez is the rookie spot starter and long reliever who has been up and down to the minor league a few times this season, but has been called on for just three appearances, one of which was in starting action.
He could have been adequately used by the Giants all year long as an ideal long reliever (which for the most part they have not had at all), but since he has barely been used, he is essentially nowhere near ready to handle critical innings down the stretch.
Of course a 1.89 WHIP in nine innings doesn't help his cause for more innings but how can you judge a kid on just nine innings ranging from a single start (Jun 19) to two relief appearances (Jun 23, Jul 10)?
That said, you can't trust Martinez.
Nor can you trust the walk machines that are the final two pitchers in the Giants bullpen in Santiago Casilla and Denny Bautista.
Between the two of them, they have pitched a combined 52 1/3 innings for the Giants.
To be fair, they both have ERA's under 3.50, but with relievers, you have to look much closer to gauge their production or lack there of.
One major problem is that in those 52 1/3 innings, they have combined for 40 BBs!
That is correct, 40 walks in 52 2/3 innings.
In other words, per every nine innings pitched between the two of them, they walk nearly seven hitters.
Keep in mind that a quality WHIP mark for a reliever is 1.25, and Bautista is sporting a 1.43 mark and Casilla is a on a new level of bad at 1.75.
These two have been with the Giants for most of the season now, and they have both been down right awful and hideous to watch at times.
Combine them with Martinez and the Giants have three relievers out of seven that they simply cannot trust to get the job done.
Wilson and Romo are excellent, Mota and Ray are solid, but the Giants need more than that with Affeldt and Runzler on the shelf.
If San Francisco GM Brian Sabean knows what is best for his ball club, he will at the very least trade for one left handed reliever, and call up a lefty from Triple-A Fresno like Geno Espinelli.
And send Casilla and Bautista back to the minors.
In an ideal world, the Giants would be able to trade for two established relievers, but getting at least one is a must before Saturday's trade deadline.
While Affeldt and Runzler will be back eventually, the Giants cannot afford to let their bullpen rot with zero lefties and awful journeymen with no sense of the strike-zone.
Neither Bautista nor Casilla belong in the major leagues.
Both need to be shown the exit from the 25 man roster if the Giants are smart. Could they make the playoffs with them continuing to walk hitter after hitter? Sure. But they would have a whole heck of a lot better chance with some new blood in the pen.