Keeping the Faith: SF's Booming Bullpen Is a Silent Success

Jason Figueiredo@sportschatterCorrespondent IJuly 28, 2009

SEATTLE  - MAY 24:  Pitcher Barry Zito #75 of the San Francisco Giants gives up the ball to manager Bruce Bochy #15 during the game against the Seattle Mariners on May 24, 2009 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

The Jiffy-Lube Change of the Game flashes and you immediately start to worry. 

It’s only natural.  The Giants bullpen has been bad for so long it is easy to unknowingly jerk into this reaction when Bruce Bochy heads to the mound. 

But despite their dreadful recent history, this once-questionable San Francisco bullpen is actually, head-over-heels, the best bullpen the Giants have seen the past five years.

Currently ranked third in the MLB with a sparkling 3.38 ERA, the Giants relievers are quietly posting the lowest bullpen ERA since their 2002 run to the World Series.

While these guys aren’t exactly launching balls past batters (ranking 25th in strikeouts), this very unassuming squad has a pretty good idea on how to get the job done.  Their relinquishing of 104 runs and 21 HR is only surpassed by the Boston Red Sox and is just the tip of the iceberg in top ten stats that this bullpen is currently putting up.   

Like Drew Barrymore in Scream, relievers tend to be easily forgettable yet still very important to the much bigger conclusion.  To get to know the Giants bullpen a little better, let's take a deeper look at the guys who are making this happen:

Brian Wilson

Although Wilson’s 41 saves in 2008 was good enough for second in the NL, fans still find it a difficult pill to swallow when asked to install all of their faith in him.  It could have something to do with his 86.2 save percentage, which is actually worse than what he finished at last year. 

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He is able to get the job done in his own interesting way though and is currently tied for first in saves in the NL with 25. 

Jeremy Affeldt

Affeldt is second in the MLB with 21 holds, which is a great stat when determining non-closers in the bullpen.  Basically, Jeremy is one of the best at coming into a game when his team is tied or has the lead and maintaining that status. 

The lone southpaw in the Giants bullpen has an outstanding 1.14 ERA, which is the best of his career and amongst SF relievers. 

Bob Howry

Howry had a rough July, getting hit with two losses due to the long ball and really had a terrible road trip, giving up a run in three of his last four outings.  His three losses on the season is still a vast improvement from the 13 he produced last year. 

His ERA is the lowest it has been since he was a closer with the Cubs in 2006 and he is actually doing a great job keeping hits to a minimum with a .231 BAA (batting average against). 

Brandon Medders

After a solid rookie season, Medders struggled to keep runs off the board the rest of his time in Arizona.

Brandon must be enjoying the new scenery.

Since the change in cities, his ERA has dropped more than two points from last year’s woeful display.  He is etching out a 2.42 ERA so far this year and is striking more people out too.   He should easily break his career high of 47 strikeouts before the season is over.  

Justin Miller

Miller is following suit and posting the best ERA of his career as well.  His recent success is a direct correlation to his ability of keeping hitters off of the basepaths.

Miller’s 1.17 WHIP is the best of his career and is the best amongst his bullpen mates. 

Justin is another player who’s ERA has taken a two point drop from last year, showing that these new guys are taking full advantage of the change in ballpark.    

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