Gabe Kapler not concerned about long-term outlook of Giants bullpen

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Kapler not concerned about recent struggles of bullpen originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

PHILADELPHIA -- When Gabe Kapler got to the bottom of the sixth inning on Wednesday, he had a very easy and clear answer on what to do next.

Carlos Rodón had dominated in the fifth but needed 98 pitches to get through those innings, and the Giants are going to watch him closely a season after he dealt with shoulder soreness. Jarlin Garcia was fresh and had not allowed an earned run since last Sept. 22. The left-hander matched up well with the bottom of the Philadelphia Phillies lineup, which consisted of light-hitting lefties.

It was an easy decision, but when you're going bad, sometimes even the easy ones backfire. That's the case for the Giants bullpen right now.

Garcia didn't just allow his first earned run of the season, he allowed his first four. The Phillies got a pair of two-run homers to wipe out a three-run deficit and held on for a 6-5 win that kept the Giants from a sweep.

It's been that kind of stretch for the bullpen, which had an MLB-worst 6.26 ERA in May. On the first night of June, Kapler turned to the one guy he hasn't had to worry about all year, and that didn't work either.

The Giants had the best bullpen ERA in baseball last season and the cast is all back, with the added bonus of having flamethrowing closer Camilo Doval around for all 162 this time. But through 49 games, the relievers have combined for a 4.50 ERA, good for 27th in the Majors. Kapler said he's not surprised by the struggles just because pockets of inefficiency should never be a surprise. He pointed out the importance of keeping a consistent mindset.

"We're certainly not going to get down on a bullpen that was excellent last year, has been excellent in stretches this year, and has all the talent in the world to be great going forward," he said. "We're just going to say we expected that there might be some stretches of ups and downs."

There is a lot of noise in those overall numbers, with poor defense impacting the relievers just as it has Alex Cobb and some of the starters. But Garcia had been immune through 17 scoreless appearances, which tied Joe Nathan's franchise record for games without an earned run to start a season.

The Giants had it set up perfectly with Garcia coming in to face the lefties at the bottom of the lineup and Jake McGee or Jose Alvarez taking them down when they came up later in the game. Garcia had allowed just one hit to a lefty all season, but the Phillies got four, including homers from Nick Maton and Kyle Schwarber.

"I don't think his slider had as much bite on it," Kapler said. "When it's good it kind of makes a little bit of a right turn, it starts at the hitter and moves out over the plate away from the hitter, and I think those were backing up on him a bit."

RELATED: What we learned as Garcia's rough outing helps Phillies avoid sweep

The Giants knew Garcia would have a bad one at some point, but they at least got the benefit of then watching what McGee did in the eighth. In his second appearance back from the IL, McGee, who allowed nine earned runs in four May appearances before getting shut down, sat at 96 mph and had a dominant frame. This came a night after he repeatedly hit 97 mph, which is a very, very good sign for the bullpen.

The group could use the boost of the former closer finding that form, although Kapler is confident that the overall struggles won't last much longer.

"I have all the confidence in the world in the bullpen," he said.

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