Giants, Marlins switch to bullpen game

Add Alex Cobb to the list of absentees for the San Francisco Giants as they play the Marlins in Miami on Friday night.

The Giants announced hours before game time that right-hander Cobb was experiencing lower back tightness and will miss his scheduled start. He’ll be replaced by John Brebbia (3-0, 3.32 ERA). It will be the first major league start for Brebbia in what will be a bullpen game.

Miami will counter with left-hander Richard Bleier (0-0, 5.23 ERA) in an opener’s role. Elieser Hernandez (2-5, 5.77) originally was announced as the starter but is expected to be available. He is not injured.

Miami won the opener of the four-game series 3-0 on Thursday night, and the Giants will try to break a two-game losing skid on Friday.

Brebbia is 9-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 201 career relief appearances with the St. Louis Cardinals and Giants. Against the Marlins, he has a 4.82 ERA in 10 career relief appearances but no decisions.

The Giants had hoped Cobb could have a solid outing and provide some relief to a beleaguered bullpen, which had a 6.26 ERA in May — the worst in the majors.

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

Perhaps the Marlins had a change of heart about starting Hernandez when they looked at the analytics. At issue with Hernandez is what happens the third time around a batting order as opponent OPS rises about 400 points. His career ERA is under 4.00 for the first four innings. But his ERA jumps to 7.09 in the fifth frame, 7.64 in the sixth and 9.49 in the seventh.

Bleier has a 4.50 ERA and one save in seven career appearances against the Giants. Hernandez is 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA and 13 strikeouts in four career appearances (one start) against San Francisco.

On Friday, Marlins pitchers will face a Giants lineup that has been battling injuries almost all season. San Francisco hitters currently on the injured list include first baseman Brandon Belt (knee) and outfielders Steven Duggar (oblique), Austin Slater (wrist) and LaMonte Wade Jr. (knee).

Designated hitter/outfielder Darin Ruf is on the bereavement list following the unexpected death of his father.

That’s four of the Giants’ top six outfielders missing from the lineup.

In addition, third baseman Evan Longoria (shoulder) and shortstop Brandon Crawford (illness) were absent from Thursday’s starting lineup. Crawford was a late scratch.

“We all know what kind of team we are when we have everyone in there,” Kapler said. “We can withstand a player or two going down. But we’ve been missing like half our team.”

Miami’s lineup is also being impacted by injuries. Outfielder/first baseman Garrett Cooper (intercostal), third baseman/outfielder Brian Anderson (back) and third baseman Joey Wendle (hamstring) are all out.

Cooper, who was not in Thursday’s starting lineup, is available for reserve duty. Anderson and Wendle are on the injured list.

“(Anderson) keeps getting better every day,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “(Wendle’s) injury keeps lingering. Hamstrings are tricky.”

–Field Level Media