By some miracle, the San Francisco Giants were still a playoff team last year, despite their bullpen leading the majors with THIRTY blown saves. THIRTY! It was the most blown saves ever recorded by a playoff team since the save became an actual statistic. They ended up finishing the year at 87-75, good for a Wild Card spot, but if their bullpen was able to convert even one third of those blown saves, you’re talking about a 97-win season, which would’ve resulted in winning the NL West by six games over the rival Dodgers.
The bullpen was, again, their Achilles heel in the postseason, and predictably so. The Giants’ bullpen imploded in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the NLDS against the eventual World Series champion Cubs, failing to protect a three-run lead that would’ve forced a decisive Game 5. It was a fitting end to an odd season for the Giants. Why was it odd? Because they went into the All Star break with the best record in the MLB (57-33), and from July 15 to September 2, they had the worst record in baseball at 15-29. They managed to save their season by going 15-13 the rest of the way to secure a playoff spot, including winning five of their last six games.
Looking at the spine of this Giants team, it’s pretty clear that they’re incredibly talented, but that bullpen needed to be addressed over the winter. Not that the Giants don’t have the money to spend, but the closer market this past offseason was kind of ridiculous. You had Aroldis Chapman returning to New York for $86 million over five years, and Kenley Jansen re-signing with the Dodgers for $80 million over five years, so that almost made Mark Melancon signing with the Giants for $62 million over four years look like a bargain.
Since recording his first save with the Pirates back on May 22, 2013, Melancon trails only Craig Kimbrel and the aforementioned Jansen, who both have 153 saves over that span, for the most saves in baseball (147). It was a great sign for the Giants. I think he’ll be great in San Francisco, and he’ll be a big reason why the Giants could threaten to end the Dodgers’ streak of four consecutive NL West division titles. Just a little ironic that closer commercial came out a few days ago, and this is his first impression over there — four hits, two earned runs, a blown save and a loss. He’ll be fine, though.
Also, in case you missed it, Madison Bumgarner became the first pitcher in history to hit two homers on Opening Day in this game, and the second one was a BOMB.