Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Giants' Bullpen is a Mess

Romo down. Flexor Strain.
Kontos out. Flexor Strain.
Lopez: 12.00 ERA.
Heston: 10.00 ERA
Strickland: 5.06 ERA
Casilla: Two blown saves, and a close call or two.

This is not the way you want to start a season. At all.

Despite their hot start, there are some serious issues going on with this team at the moment-- things we're not really used to dealing with. First of all, the injuries are ridiculous-- not that they happened, because you know, shit happens-- but that they're the same injury!

I can't say a "Flexor Strain" (if that is its real name) is one of the most common injuries I've ever heard of, but it seems to have made itself a home on the Giants' DL. Think of it as the hamate bone of pitchers I guess.

This is the very thing that shut down Cain for extended periods of time over the last year and occasionally leads to surgery. From the aptly named ThrowingInjuries.com:

The tendon on the inner side of the elbow is the Flexor Tendon. This is major attachment for the muscles in the forearm and wrist that power wrist and finger bending (“flexion”) and rotation of the hand into a palm down position (“pronation”). These muscles are clearly important in throwing a ball, from gripping the ball to putting spin on a breaking pitch. With frequent throwing, this tendon can become overloaded. This leads to inflammation of the tendon (“tendonitis”) and sometimes degeneration of the tendon. In more chronic or severe cases, the tendon may partially tear little by little. Rarely, the tendon may tear completely. Fortunately, most of the time these flexor tendon injuries will respond well to rest and time, but sometimes they don’t. In that case, surgery to remove degenerated tendon tissue and repair of the tendon is necessary. Though infrequently needed, the results are good, and the recovery is much faster than after UCL reconstruction.
So no, it doesn't mean Tommy John, but sometimes it is a precursor to something worse. Considering the abuse that Romo subjects his arm to by throwing that slider on a near daily basis, it's a miracle he's managed to stay mostly healthy for the duration of his career.

In the meantime, there are some holes to fill and some ships to right.

Lopez may be pitching his final season, but he's a crafty veteran and I expect him to figure out how to be successful one last time.

I'm not worried about Strickland really because he's got such an electric arm. He will figure it out, and he will one day be this team's closer. With him, I think it's mental more than anything. His confidence and firebrand of country hardball will one day mix with some constructive thought-- like a delicious series of mix-ins combined with Cake Batter ice cream at Cold Stone. At that time, he'll be great.

Old Jairo sounds like a budget bottle of Mezcal in a Tijuana liquor store. But that's what Casilla has been pitching like. He's hanging balls right in dudes' wheelhouses and they are getting hit a long long way. This is not something you want to see so much of so early. The weird thing is that there's nothing that suggests he is off-- at least on paper. His velocity is the same, his pitches aren't rated poorly. The only discernible difference between last year and now is that he's throwing his slider about 6% more and his curveball about 6% less. That's it.

So it comes down to pitch location and guys not being fooled. If this trend continues, we're going to have issues. The encouraging thing is that he's still throwing pretty hard and doesn't seem to be injured.

As far as Heston goes, I don't think he has a bullpen mentality. Some guys are just more comfortable starting games, and he may be one of them. I'm not quite sure what to do with him then, because clearly we need healthy arms with Kontos and Romo out.

{UPDATE: He was optioned to Sacramento today}

What's Jeremy Affeldt up to? Oh. Never mind. He cut his hand again.

A photo posted by Jeremy Affeldt (@jeremyaffeldt) on

Somewhere down in Texas, Jeff Kent is wistfully stroking his mustache and nodding, his orange-lensed Oakleys reflecting the sunset. He knows all too well the dangers of washing a truck.

As far as what to do? Here's the AAA roster with the AA roster below it. Some interesting names in Triple A right now like Vin Mazzaro and Ricky Romero, but I doubt those two would be called up anytime soon as they try to rehabilitate their major league careers. I also doubt there will be any top starting prospects called up like Stratton, Beede, Crick, or Blackburn.

Steven Okert and Mike Broadway look like a good bet though.

{UPDATE: That's exactly who they called up. I was right. That's scary!}

In case you're curious, here's a list of our top prospects.

Also, I wonder what Tim Lincecum is doing? We seem to have a need to fill. Just saying...

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