SAN DIEGO -- The Giants' bullpen has been used frequently without being overworked.

San Francisco's top five relievers in appearances have averaged less than an inning per outing: Jeremy Affeldt (64 games, 60 2/3 innings entering Friday), Santiago Casilla (70, 61 2/3), Clay Hensley (58, 48 2/3), Javier Lopez (68, 35 1/3) and Sergio Romo (67, 53 1/3).

This is a direct result of Brian Wilson's absence. Lacking his All-Star closer, who has missed most of the season after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery, manager Bruce Bochy's close-by-committee approach has prompted him to use relievers for specific matchups and situations -- often against just one or two hitters.

"It's really cool that he has so many options," Romo said. "He can go to any one of us in any situation and there isn't a lack of confidence from anybody."

"We keep our rhythm and have opportunities to pitch a lot more. As a reliever, I like that," Affeldt said. "We have the arms that can do it, arms that can bounce back."

Lincecum, Sanchez expected to start Sunday

SAN DIEGO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced that Tim Lincecum "probably" will start Sunday's series finale against the San Diego Padres, temporarily keeping San Francisco's starters on regular rest.

This also means that Matt Cain, who typically follows Lincecum in the rotation, likely will start Monday at Los Angeles. That would give him his usual four days' rest before next Saturday's probable Division Series opener at AT&T Park.

However, left-hander Madison Bumgarner, Saturday's scheduled starter here and a leading candidate to start Game 2 of the Division Series, won't pitch again in the regular season unless Bochy were to use him in relief. Bochy said Friday that the possibility of staging a simulated game to keep some pitchers sharp has been discussed.

Bochy added that he'll again use Hector Sanchez at catcher with Lincecum on Sunday. This increases the likelihood that they'd form a battery in the postseason if Lincecum receives a start. Bochy explained their pairing by pointing out that Sanchez has been behind the plate for most of Lincecum's starts during the second half, when the right-hander demonstrated marked improvement.

Should Bochy stick to that logic if Barry Zito is chosen for the postseason rotation, Sanchez would catch an unusually large percentage of San Francisco's October games.

Bochy also said that he'll probably rest Buster Posey on Sunday, instead of playing him at first base while Sanchez catches, and that Brandon Belt could receive another start in left field sometime during the final five games. Belt, San Francisco's primary first baseman, started in left Thursday afternoon and looked shaky on a couple of plays. But Bochy said that Belt probably would perform more smoothly in left during a night game, when he wouldn't have to contend with challenging cloudless skies.