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A Look At The San Francisco Bullpen

The Giants made an early strike to sign Jeremy Affeldt to be their setup man.  It was surprising Affeldt signed on November 17th, as the market for him figured to be strong.  Plus, he chose not to seek a closing role given Brian Wilson's presence in San Francisco.

Wilson used his 95.8mph heater to whiff more than a batter per inning.  However, that K rate was accompanied by a lot of walks, hits, and home runs.  His WHIP was 1.44, yet he still saved 41 games.  At the least, his BABIP (.336)/hits per nine innings (8.95) will come down.

The Giants figure to stick with Wilson unless he takes a step backward in 2009.  However, there is a case to be made that Affeldt is the better pitcher.   The main difference is Affeldt's superior control.  Affeldt was also plagued by a rough BABIP (.329).

The Bill James projections suggest the pitchers are in the correct roles, however.  They have Wilson with a 3.74 ERA and 1.38 WHIP and Affeldt with a 4.39 ERA and 1.47 WHIP.  They may have projected Affeldt as a Red though.  ZiPS sees a similar ERA but higher WHIP for Wilson, but likes Affeldt for a 3.44 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP.

This was a long-winded way of saying that I think Affeldt is a better pitcher than Wilson, but the Giants are unlikely to agree unless Wilson is horrific.  I'd be intrigued if Bob Howry steps up as a strong setup man and Affeldt gets a chance to start.  Howry doesn't project too poorly himself, with the systems calling for an ERA in the 3.75-4.10 range and a WHIP around 1.25.

While the Giants' revamped pen should certainly be an improvement, note that all three late-inning relievers allowed more than one home run per nine innings in 2008.  This could lead to some especially painful losses.




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