Giants, Bumgarner set to contend with bullpen upgrade

Giants, Bumgarner set to contend with bullpen upgrade

Giants

Giants, Bumgarner set to contend with bullpen upgrade

By Nick Piecoro

azcentral sports

The Giants fell short of maintaining their even-year World Series streak, and while the season felt disappointing in ways for them, they still managed to win 87 games, claim a wild-card spot and advance to the division series.

They’ve addressed a major problem from last year – the ninth inning – by signing veteran closer Mark Melancon and will take another run with the same group of seemingly solid, everyday players, albeit with everyone a year older.

If they can stay healthy and get the same caliber of production from their rotation, the Giants figure to again contend with the Dodgers in the National League West.

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Top draw

Lefty Madison Bumgarner, already a legend in San Francisco for carrying the Giants to a World Series victory in 2014, managed to turn in the best year of his career last year.

On the mound, that is, where he posted a 2.74 ERA with 251 strikeouts in 226 2/3 innings. However, his numbers dipped a bit at the plate, but the fact that anyone is paying attention to his offensive production helps show why he’s so fascinating to watch. He still managed to hit three homers in 86 at-bats, giving him 14 long balls in his career.

Breaking in

The Giants are going to give veteran Matt Cain the first chance at securing the fifth starter’s job, but if he falters – and, given his results/health the past few years, it’s not hard to envision that scenario – they’ll likely turn to young left-hander Ty Blach.

Blach already has impressed the Giants by throwing well last September, including going eight shutout innings to outduel Clayton Kershaw in Game 161.

Position battle

The Giants haven’t produced a homegrown, everyday outfielder since Marvin Benard in the mid-1990s. They hope that changes this year in left field, where Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson will compete for the starting job.

Both are products of the draft; Parker was a second-round pick in 2010, Williamson a third-rounder in 2012.

Manager: Bruce Bochy. 

Last season’s record: 87-75.

Big changes: Added: RHP Mark Melancon, C Nick Hundley. Subtracted: RHP Santiago Casilla, OF Gregor Blanco, RHP Sergio Romo, OF Angel Pagan, LHP Javier Lopez, RHP Jake Peavy.

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