Should Bochy Bring in Relievers Sooner? - NBC Bay Area

Should Bochy Bring in Relievers Sooner?



    There's a lot of upside to having to manage the pitching staff that Bruce Bochy has to manage.

    After all, he's got two legitimate aces on his team, a potential stud in Jonathan Sanchez, a budding young star in Madison Bumgarner and a reclamation project in Ryan Vogelsong.

    That doesn't even count his bullpen, which features three relievers -- Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez, Ramon Ramirez -- with sub-1.50 ERAs in double digit innings, a reborn Guillermo Mota -- 2.42 ERA and 20 K's in 16 innings -- and a top-of-the-line closer in Brian Wilson.

    And Bochy helped manage these guys to a World Series title in 2010. He knows what he's doing.

    So -- and here's the downside of having that great group of pitchers -- you gotta wonder what he's been thinking lately. Right?

    Sergio Romo, who would close for at least a quarter of the other teams in the big leagues, has only pitched 1.1 innings so far in May.

    It's a really bizarre thing, because during April, Romo looked not just consistent and talented, but pretty filthy, especially with his retooled slider.

    And yet, in two consecutive games that are about as "must-win" as May baseball games can get -- 0.5 games up on the Rockies, a two-game stand in their place -- Bochy might have cost his team a chance to win by leaving in Tim Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez too long.

    Sanchez pitched seven beasty innings, allowing just three hits and walking one batter, while putting the Giants in a position to win. Back-to-back singles later, he made a critical throwing error that ended up sticking him with a loss on the day.

    “It was an easy out at first,” Sanchez said. “I should have made that play I think that’s why we lost. Amezaga is pretty fast and I just wanted to make sure I got him out and I threw the ball away.”

    Granted, Sanchez finished his day with just 88 pitches, so I suppose it's kind of difficult to get upset at Bochy for leaving him in. And, after the error, Sanchez got yanked for Lopez, who gave up a ground-rule double to Dexter Fowler.

    But this wasn't the first time such a silly error cost the Giants; Tim Lincecum did the same thing the night before against Colorado that led to four unearned runs in arguably the worst start of his career.

    Lincecum only made it 5.2 innings against Colorado, thanks to a ridiculous six walks issued, but the big blow-up inning came in the sixth when it looked -- at least to the naked eye -- that the Freak was out of gas.

    "I was struggling with location all day," Lincecum said. "Six walks is not good."

    Bochy argued that Lincecum was hitting 94 on the gun and, again, he knows these pitchers better than anyone else. But Colorado's a place where bad things can happen to good pitchers really fast and when you've got a stable of relievers that can keep even the best lineup in check, burning through your starters doesn't seem like the smartest idea.

    Now, sure, Bochy's got to keep the bullpen fresh, but the same holds true for the starters. And, um, remember that stat about Romo? What'd he do -- outside of pitching spectacularly -- to get into Bochy's doghouse? Did he sleep with a coworker's mom or something?

    But it's not really just him, either. Ramirez only has three innings pitched in May. Lopez has seven, but it's not like he's getting run out there everyday, people.

    That's why his statement of concern on Tuesday night over the fielding from his starting pitchers is so odd.

    “That’s the third time on this road trip where we’ve thrown the ball away and it’s hurt us,” said Bochy, who added that the pitchers would be doing some spring training drills this week.

    After all, it sure seems like he could get back to basics a bit himself and make sure to get his top-shelf relievers onto the bump whenever his starters start getting winded or find themselves too deep in games against a division rival.