July is drawing to a close, and before we get to the very important business of speculating on trades the Giants might make and then getting mad that they’re not making the trades that we want them to, let’s look at the team we have. Specifically, let’s look at the bullpen, and let’s also rank them from least trusted to most trusted, because that’s my dang bit, and I’m sticking with it. So we start with ...
8. Chris Stratton (Last ranked: Not ranked)
Stratton, who’s been starting all year, got called up last week as a reliever, and it was weird. Henry Schulman had a theory about it:
Pure speculation here: This time of year, when you see something highly unusual, you have to wonder if it’s trade related. Odd that the #SFGiants were going to swap out Stratton for Blach then used Stratton they way they did Thursday. Makes me think it was a showcase.— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) July 27, 2018
Stratton’s appeared once out of the bullpen, and he went 1.1 innings, struck out two, walked one, and gave up three hits (including a homer) and three runs. If his appearance was a showcase, well, it went badly.
7. Mark Melancon (Last ranked: 6)
Melancon still isn’t pitching on back to back days, and his results on the days that he does get into the game aren’t there yet. There are ways to convince yourself he will be fine, if you want; his cutter is his most important pitch and its velocity is perfectly in line with his better years, and he has shown flashes of being a dominant reliever. But most of his stats are trending the wrong way: he’s walking more people than he has since he was an Astro, his strikeouts are down to where they were when he entered the league, and the last time his ground ball rate was this low, the Giants had won zero World Series trophies in San Francisco.
It’s not looking great for Melancon right now, either by the eye test or the numbers, and July Melancon has looked worse than June Melancon, which is a bad sign. But the good news is that all it’ll take is a strong August for him to jump up these rankings, which is important, because these rankings are the standard by which every reliever measures himself.
6. Ty Blach (Last ranked: 5)
Tyson Michael “Ty” Blach (born October 20, 1990) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball (MLB).
5. Sam Dyson (Last ranked: 4)
Sam Dyson has given up three runs in July and by all rights should be higher on this list. Here are the three reasons he’s not: First, when a pitcher has enough bad outings as a closer, like Dyson did for the week or so after Hunter Strickland’s injury, it’s like someone asking you, “Does your car usually make that thumping sound?” Even if you know it’s normal, that little voice in the back of your mind telling you to worry about it won’t go away until the car does.
Second, Dyson’s failures are so much louder than his successes. While 70% of the difference between Good Dyson and Bad Dyson is grounders finding holes, the good outings will bore you into complacency and the bad ones will be these endless slogs where every batter turns into David Eckstein and every inning turns into a test of your resolve to keep watching this team, because you like this and this is fun and you’re not at all questioning your life choices.
Third, Ray Black is a shiny new toy and the delight of shiny new toys cannot be overstated.
4. Ray Black (Last ranked: Not ranked)
Like, so shiny.
3. Tony Watson (Last ranked: 2)
Watson has had a surprisingly rough July, and the Giants think it’s because of overuse, so they’re easing up on him, hoping that he can turn into the pitcher who was so good for the first three months this year. They’re probably right, and he’ll probably be fine. But there’s always a chance that every other team in baseball wasn’t just being cheap when they didn’t sign him, that there was something they saw that they didn’t like, that the Giants were either so far behind the times that they didn’t see it or so desperate that they didn’t care. There is a slight chance of that.
But it’s probably not the case. He’ll probably be fine.
2. Reyes Moronta (Last ranked: 3)
This is the part of the year where Reyes Moronta, after having earned our absolute faith and trust despite walking way too many guys all year long, will continue walking too many guys and it will bite him in the ass and we’ll all be like, “We always knew that would come back to haunt him.” But let’s be honest: right now, we don’t really think it will. It seems like he can just keep walking guys and getting out of it forever. Not only do I trust him to do that, I also know with absolute certainty that he can’t. I am both Cassandra and all the people who don’t believe her.
It’s pretty fun, if I’m being honest.
1. Will Smith (Last ranked: 1)
Smith had a couple outings against the A’s where he gave up a run, one where it turned a 5-2 loss into a 6-2 loss, and one where he gave up the winning run in the 11th inning. That’s it for the negatives. Here’s everything else: So far in July, he has given up zero (0) walks, his ERA is great, his FIP is better, he’s getting grounders, he’s getting strikeouts, and coming out of the bullpen, he’s absolutely a lethal weap ... no, that’s Mel Gibson. I guess you could say that he is legend ... eh, that’s more of an Affeldt or Lopez kinda thing.
The left handed reliever Will Smith has the same name (Will Smith) as the famous actor Will Smith. It was already a beautiful thing that this team improved so much from last year, but for everyone in the know about that esoteric fact, that’s just some (sighs heavily that this is the one I’m using) collateral beauty.