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Reyes Moronta needed more leads to protect

The rookie excelled in those rare occurrences when the game was on the line.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at San Francisco Giants Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Stat Line

65 IP, 2.49 ERA, 10.94 K/9, 5.12 BB/9, 3.24 FIP

The Giants have been plagued by some Gift of the Magi-type misfortune over the last few seasons. In 2016, they had a perfectly fine offense, but their problem was that they couldn’t protect a lead. In 2018, they finally had a solid bullpen, but no leads to protect.

Reyes Moronta was the shut-down reliever the 2016 team desperately needed. Moronta was not only one of the best rookie relievers in the majors, he was one of the best relievers in general. His 30.2 strikeout percentage tied him for 25th with Carl Edwards Jr., Brad Boxberger, and uh, Tyler Clippard. His 66.9 contact rate against was the 14th lowest among all relievers, outpacing Adam Ottavino, Pedro Strop, and Brad Hand.

It’s no wonder that he kept his ERA under 2.00 for most of the year. Moronta was tough to hit. As long Moronta was throwing the ball in the strike zone, he was getting outs. The problem was that he didn’t always throw strikes. Moronta also had the fifth-highest walk percentage among relievers at 14.1.

Moronta’s season wasn’t without its rough spots. His September was pretty bad, so if you read the first few paragraphs and thought, “But this guy stunk,” that’s recency bias whispering in your ear. Conversely, for me to ignore Moronta’s command issues and suppose that he’ll continue to be a fluffy Carl Edwards Jr. is selective reasoning. But I’m trying to practice optimism here, so Moronta is going to have a sub-2.00 ERA next year.

Just don’t yell at me when Moronta walks Yu Darvish on four pitches in the NLCS.

Role on the 2018 Team

Moronta was the guy the Giants could turn to with the game on the line. He led Giants relievers in Win Probability Added and RE24 (run expectancy over 24 out states). The best example of this was when Moronta came into a bases-loaded, no out situation against the A’s. At this point, the weren’t just playing for a possible playoff spot, they were also playing for the highest honor a team can receive in the middle of their season: The Bay Bridge Trophy.

Madison Bumgarner, who had been locked in a fierce pitching duel with Edwin Jackson, loaded the bases to begin the seventh inning. That’s when Moronta came in.

Moronta struck out Chad Pinder on a nasty slider, got Johnathan Lucroy to line out softly, and induced Nick Martini into grounding out softly. Sure, Moronta was a Pablo Sandoval diving catch from giving up a bases-clearing double, but everyone needs a little help sometimes.

Role on the 2019 Team

Moronta will likely remain the seventh or eighth inning guy. I still maintain that Moronta would be a good opener candidate, and with Farhan Zaidi calling the shots it’s possible we could see him beginning a game or two next year.

Final Grade: A-

Even with a rough September, Moronta put together a solid season. The walks still make me nervous, but everything else is pretty dang good.