The bullpen collapsed, once again, as the Giants fell 12-4 to the Astros yesterday. It marked the 10th no decision for Tim Lincecum this year, and if the Giants' bullpen showed any consistency holding leads for him, he probably would have had 16 or 17 wins by now.
Instead, he "only" has 13 wins so far and is leading the National League in strikeouts.
His early exit from Tuesday's game should be a concern for any Giants fan, but it could actually be a blessing in disguise. Lincecum's innings have been piling up, and his velocity has been down. Maybe he needs a week off to recharge the batteries and sharpen up.
With the Giants looking to maybe limit his innings like last year, they could just use this as an excuse to save him a bit.
But the main concern in last night's game is the lack of effectiveness from the Giants' bullpen. Tyler Walker has been spotty at best. They're sometimes brilliant, but most of the time they give up a lead.
Billy Sadler has the stuff, but walks way too many batters, putting him in position to give up a big hit. Alex Hinshaw has been the best of the rookies this year, but he has shown that he is still a rookie, prone to the mistakes that befall a lot of young pitchers.
Geno Espineli has a future in the majors, but I think it may have been a little soon to bring him up. Four homers in 10 innings are way too many for a middle reliever.
The two rocks in the bullpen have been Jack Taschner and Brian Wilson. Wilson has been lights out, saving 23 in a row, and 32 overall. We have seen his sometimes-dramatic saves go down, and his high-stress innings are showing up less and less.
Taschner has been solid, much like Scott Eyre a couple years ago. He has the ability to get the lefties AND righties, which makes his presence in the bullpen invaluable. His performance last night was surprising, in the sense that he does not usually give up runs in bunches like that.
In the end, it is still a loss. It's another no-decision for Tim Lincecum, and it's another loss for the bullpen. The young guys need to grow up, quickly, and the older guys need to get it together and string some good outings in a row.
I don't know if they need a new face, or if they should bring someone up from inside the organization. I really don't like when teams pay big money for a middle reliever, so there has to be someone in the farm system that can be a shut-down reliever.
Hopefully someone has it in them to hold a lead, and hopefully the Giants find them soon.
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