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Beware The Bullpen Blowout

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Buried in the weekend coverage as the Giants swept the four game set in Phoenix was this tidbit from the Chronicle's John Shea:

Reliever Derek Law hasn't been sharp lately and gave up another run Saturday, and Bochy said the rookie needs to get his pitches down more: "He's living in the nitro zone right now, so he's got to make an adjustment there." The Giants realize Law could be feeling fatigue after recuperating from June 2014 Tommy John surgery.

Seeing as how I'm a worrier, this makes me worried. Mid-May, and already the Giants have used 13 relievers. That's not including Clayton Blackburn, who came up for the weekend and, most likely, will head back to Sacramento without making his debut. Going back to 2010, the first year of the Casilla-Lopez-Affeldt-Romo Normcore Four, 13 relievers is tied for the most the Giants have used pre-All Star break. We've got two months to go to the All-Star break.

(In 2012, they used 13 relievers, plus Eric Hacker came up for a spot start.)

Perhaps I shouldn't be worried. Matt Cain and Jake Peavy might be stabilizing. The rest of the rotation is eating innings, wiping their plates clean, and asking for seconds. It could be that, in a couple weeks, the bullpen will be well rested and the churn will have subsided.

It's important to keep the young arms healthy. Law might be overtaxed, as Shea noted. Josh Osich -- he of the Infinite Jest-length injury history -- is tied for second most appearances in the National League. George Kontos, about to return from the DL, got workhorsed last year. Cory Gearrin has thrown 17.2 innings, more than half way to his career high of 31 IP set in 2013. (He spent the next two years working back from Tommy John surgery.)

The good news is overall, the Giants bullpen has thrown 114.1 innings, only 19th in baseball.

It's already a transition year with Affeldt's retirement. This could also be the last year for Casilla, Romo, and Lopez, although musing about their replacements is nothing new under the marine layer. (I'll bet a few nickels that the ugly lefty-vs-lefty numbers this year smooth out soon and Lopez stays this winter with a new contract.)

The best thing that could come of Cain and Peavy getting their saddles on straight is, of course, having one of baseball's best rotations. The second best thing would be a bullpen that wouldn't need Derek Law, so he could get more measured use in Triple A, and guys like Osich and Gearrin wouldn't have to worry about getting jimbrowered. A well-rested bullpen? That's chicken soup for the soul.

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