SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — At a time when the velocity of every pitch is displayed on television and teams are building up phalanxes of hard-throwing relievers to try to replicate the success of the defending world champion Royals, one of baseball’s most successful teams is not going along for the high-speed joyride into the late innings.For the Giants, slow and steady — emphasis on steady — wins the race. Over the past three years, with growing emphasis around baseball on late-inning fireballers, San Francisco has posted an average reliever fastball velocity of 91.6 miles per hour, the lowest figure in the major leagues. Since 2010, the average reliever for San Francisco has thrown fastballs at 92.3, tied for sixth-slowest in the majors, and during that time, the Giants have won three World Series.MORE: The best pitching performances, ever | FANTASY: Ranking RPs for 2016 (Getty Images) Madison Bumgarner famously closed out Game 7 of the 2014 World Series with five innings of shutout relief in Kansas City. Using a starting pitcher in the most important innings of the year might give the impression of a lack of trust for the bullpen, but it was really a statement of faith in Bumgarner’s dominance. A strong bullpen, even without arms who light up radar guns, is a big part of the reason the Giants enter 2016 looking for a fourth championship in seven years.“They’re critical,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “I think you see the trend around baseball, how they’re loading up the bullpens. They want to build those pens up to win games late. It’s been part of our success, those guys and the job that they’ve done down there.”The Giants are not diminishing the value of performance in the late innings, just going about it a different way. Rather than simply looking to blow away the competition and making splashy acquisitions to make it happen, San Francisco leans on a proven and reliable crew, assembled mostly with under the radar moves, to get the job done.“I think the front office and scouting department go after certain guys, and it speaks volumes for those guys and the jobs that they do,” said Hunter Strickland, who joined the Giants on a waiver claim from the Pirates farm system in 2013. “As far as us players, our mentality is to go out there and just get the job done, play for the guy next to us. When everybody plays together, it all works as one unit. Success usually follows after that.”MORE: Ranking the 10 greatest Giants of all timeSince Bochy took over as manager in 2007, the Giants have had four relievers make at least 300 appearances for them. Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo remain part of the San Francisco bullpen, while Jeremy Affeldt — who pitched the 2.1 innings before Bumgarner in Game 7 two years ago after bailing out starter Tim Hudson — retired at the end of last season.     No team in baseball has had this kind of stability in the bullpen. The only other team that has even had three pitchers appear in 300 games over the past nine seasons is the Twins, while seven teams haven’t had any. (SN Illustration) “It’s something that’s unique,” said Lopez, who pitched for the Rockies, Diamondbacks, Red Sox and Pirates before coming to the Giants in a 2010 trade deadline deal for John Bowker and Joe Martinez. “I’ve been in bullpens where there’s a lot of turnover, and I do like the fact that we’ve had the continuity that we’ve had. I know what Romo does now, and what Casilla can do, and they know what I can do, and George (Kontos) being back around. When we’re going good, we complement each other well. The one thing that helps is when you have a Hall of Fame manager putting you in spots where you can sit there and it puts you in position to succeed. That’s one of the best things about it, is he’ll play the matchup game where he likes the odds, and most often, it works out.”Bochy’s knowledge of his relievers’ strengths and weaknesses is evident even to outsiders. What is less visible is the way that continuity helps the San Francisco bullpen to thrive. When Lopez talks about knowing what Casilla can do, it’s not just a matter of being able to work over hitters in a complementary fashion. Familiarity doesn’t breed contempt with the Giants; it fosters communication.“Javy, he’s very smart, and Romo, too,” said Casilla, who joined the Giants on a minor-league deal in 2010 after he had been released by the A’s. “We’ll talk in the bullpen, and so when we make mistakes, we can talk about it. We feel like family in the bullpen. That’s the key for us. We know, when we play, we’re playing for family. You want to do a good job on the mound. It’s amazing. Last year, I had a couple of bad moments, and Javy came and told me, ‘Hey, you’re not a pitcher like that.’ We check the video, and that helped me. Every time we make a mistake, we can talk because we know how we all pitch — that comes from being a family.”Casilla knows that the family will evolve. He is 35, Romo is 33, Lopez is 38 and all three will be free agents after this season. While they are still in San Francisco, though, they are fostering the next generation, which includes the 30-year-old Kontos and the anomalously hard-throwing Hunter Strickland, who are under team control through 2019 and 2021, respectively.GIANTS PREVIEW: Another even-numbered year, another World Series?Strickland made his major league debut late in the 2014 season and was brilliant. I

n seven scoreless innings, he gave up five hits, struck out nine and did not issue a walk. Then, in the playoffs, the rookie made eight appearances and gave up six home runs.An October like that could submarine a career. Strickland came back in 2015 to post a 2.45 ERA in 55 appearances, striking out 50 with 10 walks and four homers allowed in 51.1 innings.“No one guy can go out there and win the World Series, so when I did struggle, these guys came and picked me up,” Strickland said. “That’s one of the good things about the team, is we’ve got each other’s back. For me, personally, nobody likes to get beat. I definitely didn’t enjoy that. I had some ups, and plenty of downs, in the playoffs. So, I just had to build off the positive things, tweak my pitches and locations a little bit better and try to fine-tune things. … It’s an honor, with Boch and these guys showing the confidence they have in me to pitch in certain positions. I definitely see that and appreciate that. It doesn’t matter when I go in, though, I have one job to do. It starts with Boch and the front office, and the veterans have been around and know how to play the game as well. Us newer guys, we see that.”Strickland continues to heap praise on Bochy, echoing Lopez’s description of his skipper as bound for Cooperstown. The run of three championships in five years, added to the 1998 pennant with the Padres, pretty much assures that, but being a Hall of Fame manager does not necessarily mean particular acumen for running a bullpen. You can still find Braves and Yankees fans, for instance, who will grouse about the way Bobby Cox and Joe Torre handled their relief corps.LOOK BACK: Last year, SN ranked baseball's most valuable RPsFor Bochy, bullpen management is unquestionably a strength.“The best thing about Boch is he really does a good job of getting you confident of when he’s going to bring you into the game,” said Kontos, who has posted a 2.99 ERA in 193 games out of the San Francisco bullpen since arriving from the Yankees in an April 2012 trade for catcher Chris Stewart. “It gets to a point where if a situation arises or a guy in whatever inning comes up, you have a pretty good inclination that when the phone rings, it’s gonna be you, so you can get stretched out. It really gives you an opportunity to prepare to go in the game, which is ultimately better for your success.”It’s not just in-game management and having relievers be comfortable in situations that has made Bochy successful with relievers. Part of the Giants’ success has stemmed from the fact that, while other elite teams might have flashier arms in their bullpens, San Francisco can boast freshness.Since Bochy took the helm, the Giants have had nine pitchers work as many as 70 games in a season, which is near the middle of the pack on a league-wide basis, but is skewed somewhat by last year, when for the first time in Bochy’s tenure, San Francisco had a pitcher in the top 10 in the National League in appearances, and the Giants had not just one, but two. Lopez pitched 77 times to tie for third in the league, Kontos tied for 10th at 73 and Romo, the only main cog in the Giants bullpen who is home-grown, having been a 28th-round pick in the 2005 draft, made 70 appearances. (Paul Nisely/SN Illustration) MORE SPECTOR: Anthony Rizzo isn't just good. He's MVP-hype good.“Last year was an anomaly, but it is true that he gets us in there and tries to keep us as fresh as we can be,” Lopez said. “He does a great job in September, too, when you get a couple extra arms, couple extra bodies, that he brings in the right people to eat up some of those innings for us, and keep guys fresh to make that push.”The Giants could not afford to try to keep anyone fresh last year while making an ultimately futile push to try to make the playoffs. An injury-ravaged rotation in which only Bumgarner and Chris Heston made as many as 30 starts also meant more innings needing to be worked by relievers.Adding workhorses Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to the rotation over the winter, and having Jake Peavy feeling healthy again, the Giants can expect their bullpen to be back to its normal workload. They already know the cast is the same, and everyone knows how to play their role.“Since I’ve been here, we’ve been built on pitching and defense,” Lopez says. “The starting staff that we’ve been able to run out there in the last six years has been one that’s been able to work deep into ballgames, and that helps your situational matchup game, which I think Bochy excels at. … It’s a credit to him, and a credit to our players in general, the starters working deep into ballgames. It works for us, because the situational game — the way the game is so specialized now, you can work those numbers in your favor and take those chances.”The Giants will take their chances with an approach dovetailing from the rest of baseball in 2016, and the Giants will like their chances of having it work once again.