If you’re looking for a pleasant surprise amid the San Francisco Giants‘ struggles this season, look no further than Sandy Rosario.
This offseason things weren’t looking too good for the soon-to-be 28-year-old right-hander. After struggling to a 15.26 ERA over his first 10 appearances with the Miami Marlins, he couldn’t stay on a team this offseason. Over a period of two months, he was claimed off waivers by the Boston Red Sox, traded to the Oakland Athletics, waived by Oakland and claimed back by Boston, waived by Boston and claimed by the Chicago Cubs and finally waived by the Cubs and claimed by the Giants.
It seemed like a bit of a puzzling move for the Giants at the time considering the success their bullpen had in 2012, but the team was trying to assemble as many competitors as possible in the battle for the spot vacated by Guillermo Mota. As it turns out, however, that no-risk waiver claim was one of the best moves general manager Brian Sabean made this offseason.
Rosario seems to have gotten consistently better as the season has gone on. After starting the season with the AAA Fresno Grizzlies, he first appeared with the Giants during a two-day stint in April. His time with the team was short, but he was around long enough to pick up his first big-league win while facing one batter on April 30.
He returned again for a brief spell in May and struggled. But since his most recent promotion to the major leagues on June 12, Rosario has been nothing less than dominant. Over that span, he has a 2.20 ERA. Rosario may not be a traditional power pitcher, but he makes up for it with his ability to get ground balls and force outs, having held hitters to a .233 average this year.
His most impressive showing, though, came over the past two games. In Thursday’s game against the Washington Nationals, Rosario got drilled in the sternum by a comebacker and lost his breath. Somehow he still had enough strength to pick up the ball and throw to first for the out, but it was assumed that he would miss at least a few days. He proved that estimate wrong, however, by throwing two strong innings of relief and picking up the win over his former team–the Marlins–on Friday.
Though George Kontos has shown the Giants this year that a successful rookie showing by a reliever isn’t always an indicator of prolonged success, Rosario should be relied upon to play a key role in the Giants’ 2014 bullpen. With Santiago Casilla having been injured for a large chunk of the season, Rosario showed that he can be very effective in pressure situations. If he can keep up the good work, what began as a low-profile waiver claim could become another fantastic move for Brian Sabean to add to his list of great acquisitions.