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MLB San Francisco Giants

Assessing the Impact of 13-Man Pitching Staff for San Francisco Giants

Madison Bumgarner San Francisco Giants

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The return of Jeremy Affeldt from the 15-day disabled list prompted the San Francisco Giants to make a difficult roster decision. The most logical move was for the club to demote fifth outfielder Juan Perez, who has minor league options remaining, and adopt a 13-man pitching staff. Perez failed to register a base hit in eight official at-bats while playing late inning defense for left fielder Mike Morse, who boasts minimal outfield range.

While the Giants had other options, including potentially designating Ehire Adrianza or Yusmeiro Petit for assignment, it didn’t make sense to essentially give up a valuable role player this early in the season. Perez was a virtual waste of a 25-man roster spot and blatantly needs to play every day in order to hone his skill set. Although Adrianza isn’t exactly big league ready at the plate, he flaunts a strong glove hand and provides reliability on defense — a skill the Giants need considering Brandon Hicks‘ recent struggles in the field.

Petit could prove to be a valuable trade chip come the July deadline, assuming the Giants’ starting rotation is able to remain healthy. Petit has surrendered four runs in eight innings with nine strikeouts so far this season. San Francisco’s bullpen is now deep with players capable of chewing up innings, considering the employment of two long men, Petit and left-handed reliever David Huff.

The Giants’ bullpen has been taxed in early action, as the club’s starters have managed to accumulate just five quality starts in 15 games to rank 27th in baseball. The ‘pen hasn’t backed down from the challenge, though. Five different Giants’ relievers have posted ERAs of 2.00 or better in at least seven appearances. That kind of success has been crucial to the Giants’ 10-5 start and will continue to play a big role in determining whether the team is going to win the NL West.

The 2014 MLB season is on the brink of its first checkpoint. After the calendar turns from April to May, the standings will indicate which teams appear to be clear-cut contenders. While a lot can happen over the course of a six-month season, the Giants figure to be in it for the long haul. Staff ace Madison Bumgarner is a big component of the success the Giants are capable of. At 2-0 with a 2.32 ERA in 16.1 innings pitched this season, Bumgarner is showing why he’s considered a legitimate Cy Young Award candidate.

Bumgarner leads the Giants’ 13-man pitching staff, which is loaded with a bounty of mid-to-late inning relief pitchers who are up to the challenge of shutting down opposing hitters. As a unit, the Giants’ pitching staff ranks eighth in team ERA at 3.33. They need to sustain that level of efficiency over the course of the season in order to win the division title and make another run at a World Series championship.

John Shea is a San Francisco Giants writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @cutthroatpicks. “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.