Kapler: Hjelle ‘as good as it gets' in latest outing vs. Rockies


Sean Hjelle's latest outing was a night and day difference from his disastrous appearance on Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers

The Giants again went with an opener in Tuesday's 5-3 win over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field and Hjelle again was called on to eat up bulk innings. 

In four-plus innings of work, Hjelle allowed six hits and was charged with two earned runs while striking out three batters and walking none. He did his job and did so in the hostile confines of Coors Field. Giants manager Gabe Kapler was pleased with what he saw from the six-foot-11 righty, who has thrived in the role twice in three long-relief appearances, previously tossing five innings of one-run ball on Sept. 8 against Milwaukee. 

"It's about as good as it gets," Kapler told reporters postgame. "It's interesting, we've seen three outings from him and two of them (were) phenomenal, lights-out, a ton of strikes, getting ahead, staying ahead, pounding the zone, getting ground balls, getting weak contact. One of them was a bit off. Unfortunately, we ran out of pitches, I feel like if he had a few more pitches, maintains his velocity a little bit better he would be able to get through that game for us. 

"In this ballpark, it's the only way to pitch. The only way to survive is by throwing a ton of strikes and forcing the action and he did exactly what we would have hoped and gave us a chance to win the game."

Once a top starting pitching prospect for San Francisco, Hjelle has yet to be used as a traditional starter at the major league level. Head-scratching? Sure. But Kapler doesn't see it that way. 

"I would kind of consider this that, right?" Kapler explained. "I know it's not the same thing as starting a game, but I would just call these three starts, even though that's not what they are, but that's sort of how he's been used.

"We'll consider everything and everything's on the table."

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With Alex Wood out for the remainder of the season, the Giants have had an open spot in the rotation that has been, and likely will continue to be, filled by bullpen games.

It's far from flashy, but the Giants will continue to rely on Hjelle in this non-traditional role down the stretch. If he shows enough from now until the end of the season, the 25-year-old may compete for a normal rotation spot next spring training. 

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