STAT LINE: 26 Appearances, 2-2, 23.1 IP, 6.17 ERA, 1.157 WHIP, 16R, 33K, 10BB
Ray Black was an interesting player for the Giants in 2018. He’s a right-handed pitcher who got called up in early July after the whole Rangers trade including Austin Jackson and Cory Gearrin went down. He was particularly interesting because he could touch the high 90s with his fastball regularly and sometimes even ratchet it up 104/105mph when he needed to add a little something extra to it.
His journey to the show was a long one. Not often do you hear of a 28-year old making his rookie debut in randomly in July.
After he finished high school, he had Tommy John surgery, followed by a knee-injury which limited his ability to pitch in college. From then to now, Black has undergone four surgeries and missed three years of baseball because of it. He had his latest surgery in 2017 to work on some bone spurs and clear up the joint in his elbow.
All of this is to say the road has been a rocky one but Black’s ability to throw what I’ll classify as “hella fast” has kept him in the game. The lack of precision and control has held him back. I would say we saw both sides of Black in his 26 appearances from his debut (not very encouraging, two walks, a pop-up, and and a three-run homer) to his better outings throughout the year (in the rest of his outings in July, he didn’t give up a hit lowering his 81.00 ERA from his first outing to a 3.12 ERA by July 30th)
Is Ray Black exciting? Heck yes.
Do I trust him? Ummmm....TBD
ROLE ON THE 2018 TEAM
This may be a sentimental and a romantic baseball opinion but I think 2018 for Ray Black was all about showing himself that could pitch in the majors. Just an opportunity to give a guy who had a very difficult journey a chance to live out his dream.
Let’s face it, 2018 was certainly not about much else. For the sake of evolving the story of the season, I’m going with “Ray Black’s Incredible Comeback” theme.
ROLE ON THE 2018 TEAM
This is certainly where things get interesting because the Giants can certainly use an arm like Black’s in the bullpen next season. A guy who can throw 100mph+? Oh yeah, thank you, I’ll have some more.
His success is contingent on a few things:
- Health - this has been such a factor throughout his career and something that’s held him back in multiple regards. From interviews with Black, it sounds like staying healthy via rest, treatment, diet, etc is a huge focus for him so here’s hoping he can keep himself on the mound for a full season.
- Secondary Pitches - I’d like to see Black evolve some of his secondary pitches and not rely so heavily on velocity all the time that could be factoring into fatigue, injury, and just for the simple matter of expanding his repertoire. He has a slider and curveball but maybe a nice little change up to offset the hard stuff?
- Lefties - Black was primarily used against righties, holding those batters to a .180 BA and slugging .339. Against lefties, batters were hitting .260 and slugging .652. Would love to see those numbers level out a little with the splits.
I can see Black starting the year in Sacramento and at the top of the list for call-ups when injuries hit.
Given his journey and his rough first outing, I found the bounce back pretty impressive. I’ll be grading on a curve next season so hoping to see some improvements with more MLB service time.