Stat line: 47 games, 13 starts, 118.2 IP, 75 K, 41 BB, 1.47 WHIP, 3.84 FIP, 4.25 ERA
It wasn’t easy to feel comfortable with Ty Blach a year ago. His 2017 was like one of those cloth oven pads that you make as a child, sloppily woven together with equal parts encouraging starts and terrifying bouts of hard contact.
One week he’d get shellacked and you’d remember that pitchers who cannot miss bats rarely do well, and then the next week he’d make the Dodgers look like minor leaguers. He kept you hanging around with results that you didn’t understand, then reminded you why you didn’t understand them.
He was better than he had any right to be, and yet, even with that, he wasn’t very good.
And then 2018 came around and, like a golden retriever giddily chasing the same tennis ball over and over, Blach enthusiastically and earnestly went out and did the exact same thing.
There were small changes in Blach’s performance - the comically-low strikeout rate found a booster seat, but, in turn, the walk rate did as well. The frequent contact found holes in the defense with increased frequency, but they sailed over the fence less often. Blach gave up more than 13 hits per nine innings, yet found his FIP making its home well beneath the 4.00 overhang.
It was odd. It was, at times, good. It was, at no time, comforting.
Role on the 2018 team
When the season began, the Giants - bright-eyed and full of youthful innocence - sent Blach to the mound to kick off what they believed was a year of contention.
It was a concoction that arose through equal parts horrific roster construction and a snakebit team.
But Blach wouldn’t hold the spot long, as he was relegated to the bullpen by the end of May, due to a severe case of the struggles. And he was better there, as the shorter stints allowed for a little more power in his pitches, and, most importantly, helped him avoid the dreaded third-time-through-the-order curse that Bruce Bochy had put upon him. And, for that matter, the second-time-through-the-order curse that being a starter had bestowed upon him.
As a starter, Blach’s OPS-allowed the first time through the order was .630, which is basically Billy Hamilton. The second-time through the order it was .890, which is a tick higher than Bryce Harper. The third time through the order it was .900, which is just about Manny Machado.
The bullpen was a good move, and it helped. His ERA plummeted to 3.17. His K/9 skyrocketed to a (still incredibly low) 6.7. He was arguably an asset in terms of production, and unquestionably one in terms of Bochy having an innings eater when the affairs turned ugly.
Role on the 2019 team
It seems most likely that Blach will begin next year where he left off this year: in the bullpen. Dereck Rodríguez and Andrew Suárez will be in the rotation. Unless traded, Madison Bumgarner is there as well. Jeff Samardzija is there, pending health. Derek Holland may be retained. Chris Stratton is likely ahead of Blach on the depth chart. Tyler Beede may be given his shot. Free agency may bring something.
Blach has proven to be a capable pitcher who should not be allowed to pitch more than a few innings at a time. If the Giants want to maximize either his trade value, or his ability to contribute to the team, they’ll keep him as a mid-and-extra-inning two-inning bullpen arm.