DENVER -- The most important thing you need to know on this Saturday morning is that the tarp is already on the field and it's dumping.
It's going to be a long day here, but if the Giants get 18 innings in, it's possible you could see a lot of Hunter Strickland. The hard-throwing right-hander was called up Saturday as the 26th man (which MLB allows for double-headers) and Bochy said Strickland is so fresh that he could pitch in both games or go multiple innings in one. That's been the focus for him in Sacramento, and he has gotten up to 41 pitches in an appearance.
Strickland has a 1.66 ERA in the minors, 25 strikeouts, three walks and no homers. He said he is trying to mix it up more with his pitches, and he's using his 2-seamer more often.
"It's more location than anything," he said of the success.
It certainly also helps that he's further removed from Tommy John surgery. I've written this before in response to fans who don't trust him after October, but Strickland was never supposed to even be a September call-up. When Giants officials talked about him in the summer, they viewed him as a long-term fix, not a guy who would be strong enough to pitch through the end of 2014. He was so good in the minors and in September that he ended up on the postseason roster. Strickland is 100 percent now, and he feels so good that he has shelved that picture of his sliced open elbow that he used to tape to his locker.
Strickland said he's thrilled that he gets a day up here, but it did cost him a bit. He had a 3:45 flight yesterday, so he missed a ceremony in Sacramento and once again missed out on getting his World Series ring. He'll get it eventually.
"Must be nice," he said, smiling, as he talked about his Triple-A teammates who got bling.
--- Jeremy Affeldt has given up runs in four of his last seven appearances and has a 6.00 ERA. Bochy blamed himself for sending Affeldt back out after the long delay last night, but said Affeldt felt great. There's more at play here.
"More than anything, it's just mistakes. More than he normally makes," Bochy said. "He's as hard on himself as anybody. He's frustrated."
Affeldt's fastball velocity is down to 89.9 MPH after three straight years a tick above 91. Bochy said they'd like him to mix his pitches up more, but this could just be a guy who isn't fully recovered from October. We talked so much about Madison Bumgarner's workload last year, but the 35-year-old Affeldt made 62 regular season appearances last year and then threw in 11 postseason games.
--- Buster Posey is starting the night game (if there is one) because Bochy wanted him to get more rest after last night's marathon. There's a decent chance Posey gets a full day off tomorrow. The Giants have a day game here and then a day game in Milwaukee on Monday.
--- Good news for another rehabbing Giant: Derek Law (Tommy John) has been cleared to pitch in extended spring games in Scottsdale. Law is about 11 months past the surgery and has had no setbacks. If Law can get back, the Giants are going to be loaded with relief prospects. Strickland, Cody Hall, Steven Okert and Ray Black are among the big arms down in Sacramento and San Jose.