SAN FRANCISCO -- More than half of the Giants' players who won it all two years ago won't be on the World Series roster this time around, and the only portion of the roster that bears a similar resemblance to 2010 is a bullpen that has played a pivotal role in the team's run to yet another Fall Classic appearance.
Only 11 of the 25 players who were on the 2010 World Series roster will be playing for the Giants in this year's Fall Classic, eight of whom are pitchers. Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner will once again be starting games in the World Series, but Tim Lincecum will move from the rotation into the bullpen to join five relievers who also were part of the 2010 relief corps.
A notable absence is closer Brian Wilson, who was lost for the season in April to Tommy John surgery. And as the team is left to only enjoy Wilson's inescapable dugout presence during games, the Giants have turned to their veteran relievers to make up for the loss of their All-Star closer.
Manager Bruce Bochy has found himself accumulating quite a bit of mileage in his treks between the dugout and the mound at the end of games, playing matchups as he rotates through 2010 holdovers Javier Lopez, Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt and Sergio Romo to close out games.
"We've all been on the same page over the last two years, and now we've been able to play along with Bochy and guess when we're going to throw," Lopez said. "That's why I think this has really worked with us. We know what our job will be, whether it's one out, two outs, three outs, four outs. We know what we need to do and then we'll hand the ball off to the next guy, and I think that's why we're able to be where we are right now."
Casilla was initially tabbed to be the interim closer after Wilson went down, but his first-half struggles led to a committee approach in the second half in which Romo has emerged as the de facto closer.
"How it has to work is they have to ask what they can do to help the ballclub, and it really doesn't matter what role you put them in," Bochy said. "I have four guys that could close the ballgame, I think. They're comfortable pitching late in the game."
Jose Mijares was added from the Royals in August to give the Giants another dependable left-hander alongside Lopez and Affeldt, while rookie George Kontos has emerged as a key piece to the middle innings to complement Guillermo Mota, the other 2010 holdover.
Having to replace Wilson is no easy feat, but the Giants have done so, Lopez said, by utilizing the diversity that their bullpen offers to offset Wilson's usual formidable presence at the end of games.
"Obviously, losing Wilson is a big blow," Lopez said. "You're losing a guy who can throw in the mid-90s with a nice cutter. He can really get the hitters to get out of their zone. With the bullpen that we have now, we dictate bat speed. We try to locate, mix and match, play the matchups. It helps that the lefties that we carry, none of us throw the same. Everybody's got a different angle. Romo's the same way in that he has that power slider with that different angle, while you have Casilla with more of the hard stuff and the power sinker."
The formula of mixing and matching Lopez, Casilla, Affeldt and Romo has carried over into the postseason, with the four relievers entering the World Series with a combined 29 appearances so far. In their 24 2/3 innings this postseason, the four have held opponents to a total of two earned runs.
"We always need a guy to come in in that situation and get the punchout, and [Romo] always seemed to be that guy the past couple years for us," Lopez said. "He has that unbelievable slider, but now he has that same confidence in his cutter and changeup, and he's a strike-thrower. That's something that he's never had to work on, and that's a gift that he's been given.
Bumgarner tweaks mechanics, gets Game 2 nod
SAN FRANCISCO -- Tabbed to take the mound for the Giants in Game 2 of the World Series, Madison Bumgarner will have a chance to test out his cleaned-up delivery that has Giants coaches confident enough to put the 22-year-old southpaw back in the rotation.
A video session with pitching coach Dave Righetti showed Bumgarner that he had been reaching too far back in his delivery, which explained to him why he was feeling more fatigued than usual during his recent outings.
"I've always been a rotational guy, but Rags called me in and we looked at some video together," Bumgarner said. "I've been turning a little bit more than I used to. That causes a lot more stress on your body when you're trying to get back in the direction of home plate. We got that all worked out now, I think."
Bumgarner pitched himself out of the rotation in the National League Championship Series after the Cardinals tagged him for six runs in 3 2/3 innings in the series opener. The outing followed his Game 2 start in the NL Division Series when he allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Reds.
"I think throwing the way I was throwing was causing a lot more stress on my body, and that was causing me to tire out more quickly," Bumgarner said. "Whether you're tired or not, you have to go out and find a way to get the ball to go where you need it to go. I wasn't able to do that."
Bumgarner hasn't pitched in a game since Oct. 14, but he has worked on refining his delivery in several bullpen sessions, with the most recent one coming in the Giants' off-day workout Saturday.
"It feels a whole lot better now, but there's really no way to tell until you're out there in game speed," Bumgarner said. "I think we're good and ready to go."
A regular season that brought him a career-best 16 wins also had him fighting his mechanics toward the end of the season, particularly a four-start stretch at the end of August and early September. He posted a 7.28 ERA in those four outings, but rebounded with two strong starts in which he allowed three runs in 11 2/3 combined innings after tweaking his delivery and mechanics during bullpen sessions.
"I wish your body could just lock in and do the same thing every time out, but there's always little stuff that goes on," Bumgarner said. "A lot of times people will catch it and fix it a lot sooner before you realize what you're doing."
Jay Lee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.