Hunter Strickland built off his strong 2015 campaign with another solid season in 2016. While his ERA rose from 2.45 to 3.10, he induced more groundballs (47.3 percent groundball rate) and lowered his home run rate (0.6 HR/9) . He also incorporated his breaking ball more often to keep opposing hitters from sitting on his high-90s fastball. The lone criticism of his performance last season was his inability to take hold of the vacant closer role after Santiago Casilla was demoted in the second half of the season. The Giants went out and signed closer Mark Melancon in free agency, meaning Strickland may not even sniff the closer role again in the foreseeable future barring injury.
Strickland -- who was away from the team on paternity leave -- returned to action Tuesday, tossing a scoreless inning and striking out two in a 4-3 loss to the Diamondbacks. The veteran reliever looked sharp in his return, something that couldn't be said about the entire Giants bullpen while he was away. With fellow late-inning reliever Derek Law struggling early in the season, Strickland should be manager Bruce Bochy's go-to man in high-leverage situations leading up to the ninth inning, making him a solid source of holds with good strikeout potential.
Strickland returned from paternity leave Monday, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. As expected, Strickland rejoined the Giants after three days away, with Steven Okert being optioned to Triple-A in a corresponding move. The 28-year-old will reclaim his spot as the team's primary setup man.
Strickland was placed on paternity leave Friday, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Strickland should be back early next week to reclaim his setup spot. Steven Okert will take his place on the roster.
Strickland retired the only batter he faced Monday, slightly lowering his Cactus League ERA to 4.82 over 9.1 innings. Manager Bruce Bochy has remained quiet regarding who his primary setup man will be this season. Both Strickland and Derek Law were considered the frontrunners, and Will Smith's (elbow) injury has removed the lefty from the equation. Both relievers are expected to be used in some capacity in the late innings of close games, so the competition only affects those who play in leagues that count holds as a category.
Strickland will compete with Derek Law for the setup role this spring, CSN Bay Area reports. The 28-year-old Strickland proved that his 2015 season was not a fluke after posting a 3.10 ERA over 61 innings last year. He spent the majority of the season pitching in the seventh and eighth innings, and the same should be expected this year after the club signed closer Mark Melancon. Whoever manager Bruce Bochy settles on as his primary setup man will see a bump in value in leagues that count holds.