Tim Lincecum can’t seem to catch a break.

In his past two starts, Lincecum was the epitome of the stat “quality starts,” striking out 23 batters through 15.1 innings and only allowing five runs on eight hits. But because of his bullpen, the Freak failed to record a win in over a week.

For the “one game a week” fans, San Francisco’s inability to close out games for Lincecum has created some murmurings that the Giants bullpen could be in trouble.    

While Brandon Medders, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt, and Brian Wilson have coughed up a few untimely runs in their past few games, the bullpen as a whole is actually one of the best in Major League Baseball.

The Giants’ bullpen has the seventh best ERA in the MLB, allowing only 24 runs and posting an above-average 3.20 ERA. They also rank seventh in hits (67), seventh in home runs allowed (6), and fourth in earned runs (25).

But with the good also comes the bad.

Although Wilson is tied for seventh in the league in saves, the Giants’ save percentage as a team is a middle-of-the-road 63.6 percent. Romo leads the team with four blown saves and two of his last three outings have been shaky.     

With a sweep of the reigning National League Champs in their grasp, Romo failed to lock it up, struggling to keep his pitch count down and runners from crossing the plate. After being saddled with the loss against the Phillies, Romo seemed to be back on track until he served up a home run to Florida’s Dan Uggla in Tuesday’s appearance. 

But with every sub-par performance that Romo and Medders bring to mound, there are also lights-out innings from the likes of Dan Runlzer and Guillermo Mota.

Mota’s 0.87 ERA ranks in the Top 20 amongst pitchers with at least 10 innings pitched. In the month of April he threw 8.1 innings, faced 32 batters, and gave up zero runs. His first hiccup came against Colorado on May 1 in a non-crucial relief appearance.

Runzler has also been nearly mmaculate to start off the season, only allowing runs in one appearance. The three runs allowed to the Padres back in April have inflated his ERA to a modest 2.25, but outside of this one blemish, Runzler’s stuff has been absolute amazing. 

In 12 innings this season, the young prospect has faced 42 batters, struck out 12, given up only one home run, and maintained an outstanding 1.25 WHIP. 

With the Giants starting pitching going deep into almost every game, San Francisco’s bullpen has been used sparingly, which could be a good thing or a bad thing.

Solid starting pitching provides the bullpen with that much needed rest, that ultimately benefits the team further into season. 

On the other hand, too much rest can promote rust on the arms of these relievers, which can create concerns when calling on pitchers in fiery situations. Keeping the arms in the bullpen fresh is a great thing, but making sure they stay sharp is an entirely different issue.

This may lead to a situation like Lincecum’s start against the Phillies, where Bruce Bochy tried to balance the wear and tear of his pitching staff by making the tough decisions to pull the hook.

However, it is still way too early to start freaking out about a few tough innings by certain members of the Giants’ bullpen. San Francisco has several strong arms relieving their starters and these “Pen Heads” have the ability to pick each other up when one in them struggles.

As long as the Giants’ starting pitching continues to dominate, the Bay Area should not have to lean too heavily on or worry too much about their bullpen…at least for now.


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