Andrew McCutchen’s been traded, so the only thing left to talk about is the bullpen! Right? That’s how it works, right? Everyone’s on board with talking about the bullpen? Just like we do every month?
Man, I wish I’d finished this for yesterday morning.
8. Chase d’Arnaud (Last ranked: Not ranked)
Do I want to believe that his 0.00 ERA is sustainable over the season? Of course I do. But that 8.12 xFIP is just too worrying for me to think that d’Arnaud has arrived. Tell you what: if he puts up that same performance again in September, then I’ll move him way, way up the list. Prove me wrong, Chase!
7. Hunter Strickland (Last ranked: Not ranked)
The version of Hunter Strickland we saw before his scrap with a door in the clubhouse would have ranked a lot higher, but since he came back, he hasn’t looked like the same guy. His velocity is down, he’s not getting strikeouts, and his current performance inspired Former MCC Overlord Grant Brisbee to tweet this:
This is the kind of matchup that scares the shit out of me, StrickIand vs. a hitter.— Grant Brisbee (@GrantBrisbee) August 28, 2018
Now, none of this means that he’s going to be a bad pitcher next year, or even for the rest of this year. But it does mean that when he comes into a game, you’re not feeling great about it.
6. Ty Blach (Last ranked: 6)
Blach has been a Totally Fine Reliever. And importantly, he’s a guy who can spot start or come in for a long time in extra innings and not embarrass himself, or he can go for an inning or two and do a nice job. He might not be as great as Yusmeiro Petit in that role, but not a lot of guys are, and we can be glad he’s on the team.
5. Sam Dyson (Last ranked: 5)
By pure overall performance, Dyson has been a solid contributor to the Giants. His ERA+ is 145, which is behind only Will Smith, Reyes Moronta, and Tony Watson among relievers. And just to be clear, 145 is an extremely good ERA+, and every one of you would have taken that from Dyson coming into the year. He’s even had a good month of August, pitching 9 innings and giving up two runs, with good peripherals to match. You can’t really complain here.
But there was that time he walked in the winning run in the 10th inning.
Is it unfair to focus on one game when Dyson’s been so solid all month and all year? Yeah, probably. But on the other hand, Sam, my dude with a cross-eyed, bowtie-loving cat, don’t walk in the winning run in the 10th inning.
4. Tony Watson (Last ranked: 3)
Watson’s second half has not been as unambiguously successful as his first, with August in particular being a little rough for him. Even still, he’s one of the most trusted pitchers on the team and deserves to be. Would it be nice to see him revert to early season form in September? Absolutely. But the good work he put in over his first three months of the season means that even after a little hiccup, Tony Watson is still a reliable left-handed option coming out of the bullpen.
3. Mark Melancon (Last ranked: 6)
We have been through a lot with Mark Melancon, haven’t we? Well, by ERA, FIP, and xFIP, he’s been the Giants’ best reliever in August (technically in the case of ERA, second best to d’Arnaud). And he’s looked the part. Bruce Bochy called on him to close out the games on Saturday and Sunday, and Melancon did, in that boring way that is ideal for closers. Does that mean that Mark Melancon Is Back? No, but after month after month where he had appearances that emphatically did not mean that, it’s good to see some that might mean that.
2. Will Smith (Last ranked: 1)
Smith’s August has not been as unambiguously successful as his rest of the year, with these last couple weeks in particular being a little rough for him. Even still, he’s one of the most trusted pitchers on the team and deserves to be. Would it be nice to see him revert to early season form in September? Absolutely. But the good work he put in over his first three months of the season means that even after a little hiccup, Will Smith is still an excellent left-handed option coming out of the bullpen.
1. Reyes Moronta (Last ranked: 2)
When Reyes Moronta comes in to pitch, well, it sure in an experience. But don’t take my word for it! Take Kerry Crowley’s, who has been on this beat all year:
Folks, the Reyes Moronta Experience™ is about to happen.— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) April 15, 2018
After A-Rod led the crowd in Take Me Out To The Ballgame, the fans at Wrigley Field are in for a different type of treat.— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) May 28, 2018
The Reyes Moronta Experience™
Free baseball isn't free. But today, the Reyes Moronta Experience™ is. He'll pitch the 11th.— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) June 24, 2018
Love the people who tweet me "This should end well" or "Why??" every time the Reyes Moronta Experience™ starts.— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) July 22, 2018
Cincinnati has never experienced anything quite like this. This, of course, being the Reyes Moronta Experience™.— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) August 18, 2018
He’s just good. He’s a good pitcher. Moronta walks too many guys, but he also gets a ton of strikeouts and he usually gets out of the jams he creates. Would it be better if he didn’t create those jams? Yep! But the reaction to Reyes Moronta walking a guy isn’t “Aw crap,” but instead, “Man, how does he do it?” Because he does it! He gets out of it. Not having an it to get out of is Plan A, but let’s not knock Plan B if it works.
I want to be clear about this bit: the pitchers are not being ranked on their likely performance in the near future. Moronta issues too many walks for me to be comfortable projecting gaudy numbers for him. But when he comes into the game, he brings a similar kind of fun energy that the last number 54 did. Am I saying there’s no dread at all? Of course not! He’s a reliever; there’s always a little bit of a possibility that he’ll grab your soul, snap it in two, hand it back, and expect a thank you. But Moronta’s been fantastic this year, a bright spot that the team needed, and watching him pitch is quite the experience.