San Francisco Giants Considering Adding Extra Reliever

By Patrick Karraker
San Francisco Giants Brett Bochy
Eric Hartline- USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco Giants are heading into a long stretch in which they will play every day from Friday until the All-Star break, and they are discussing a roster alteration in order to deal with it. According to CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly, Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy said Wednesday that the club has discussed adding a 13th pitcher, and would likely subtract a catcher in order to do so.

The variables of this situation depend largely on when the team decides to make a move, and what other transactions occur. If the Giants need to place infielder Joaquin Arias on the disabled list, which they almost certainly will do if he is not ready to go on Friday, they would be allowed to recall right-hander Jean Machi from AAA Fresno. If Arias stays active, Machi must remain in the minors for a full 10 days and would not be eligible to return until at least next Wednesday. Machi is really the only pitcher in the Giants’ system who would be ready for a call up at this point, as their depth has been greatly depleted by injuries.

In addition, the Giants could wait until late next week to make a move, when Santiago Casilla is scheduled to return from the disabled list. However, if they decide that they need an extra arm in the Cincinnati Reds‘ and Colorado Rockies‘ hitter-friendly ballparks, there are only a few somewhat reasonable options.

Left-hander Dan Runzler would be the easiest pitcher to recall, and is the only reliever other than Machi in Triple-A that is on the Giants’ 40-man roster. Having an extra lefty would be a nice luxury for the Giants, who have used their primary left-handers, Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt, pretty heavily this year. They also have Jose Mijares, but he’s been used mostly in mop-up situations. That being said, Runzler has struggled recently, having a 9.58 ERA in June. He’s given up 14 runs in his last 13.1 innings.

The Giants do have an open 40-man spot at the moment, so anyone in the upper minors is theoretically in play. Many fans will likely want to see Heath Hembree, the team’s top relieving prospect. But general manager Brian Sabean recently acknowledged that Hembree is not ready, and he has struggled over the past few weeks.

 Brett Bochy, son of Bruce, is Fresno’s most effective remaining reliever. The 25-year-old righty, in his first season at Triple-A, has rebounded from a rough start and now has a 5.12 ERA on the year. He has a 3.86 ERA in June, and seven of his last 10 outings have been scoreless, including the most recent four. He also provides a power arm, as he is averaging more than a strikeout per inning.

26-year-old Austin Fleet would also be a reasonable selection. The righty began the year in limbo, starting on High-A San Jose’s inactive list after playing in Double-A last year. He took advantage of several injuries in Triple-A and has impressed, save for one outing. He has experience as both a starter and a reliever, so he would be a quality innings-eater. He gave up five runs in a 1.1-inning relief appearance a week ago, but subtracting that game he has a 3.86 season ERA . His style and aggressive motion may remind some fans of a young Tim Lincecum.

As Bochy stated, the Giants would likely have to get rid of a catcher in order to accommodate another pitcher. With the heavy playing time given to Hector Sanchez recently, it would seem likely that Guillermo Quiroz would be the man to go. Though he’s a great clubhouse presence and fantastic defensively, he’s only hitting .171 and has not played since June 18. It is worth noting. however, that he would need to be designated for assignment and has the right to refuse an assignment to Triple-A. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be a huge blow for the Giants to lose him, as Triple-A catcher Johnny Monell is hitting .312 with 14 homers this year and could provide depth if needed.

Patrick Karraker is a San Francisco Giants writer for Follow him on Twitter @PatrickKarraker, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google+.

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