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Reyes Moronta was a delight, and then he got injured

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He was so good! Let’s all hold onto that during his long rehab process.

San Francisco Giants v Colorado Rockies Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Stat line

56 G, 56.2 IP, 11.12 K/9, 5.24 BB/9, 2.86 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 4.83 xFIP, 0.7 fWAR, 1.3 rWAR

Just about every time Reyes Moronta takes the mound, he’s a delight to watch. He walks way too many people, strikes out an absurd number, usually gets out of the mess he creates, and takes you on a ride along the way. As I said all year in my bullpen power rankings, Moronta is just an absolute delight to watch on the mound, because he has the stuff and determination to get out of every mess he creates. He’s easily one of the five most fun players on the Giants.

So, of course, the indelible image of Moronta’s 2019 is him going down on the mound after throwing an unremarkable pitch, immediately in agony.

It was the kind of injury where you immediately knew he wouldn’t be back in 2019. Something had just gone extremely wrong, and it was the kind of extremely wrong that takes lots of months and more than zero surgeries to fix. It turned out to be a shoulder injury — a torn labrum — but that reaction was as clear of a sign as you could ever get that, whether it was an elbow or shoulder, torn ligament or rotator cuff, it would be a long time before Moronta took the mound again.

Moronta had been great in 2019 too. That wasn’t so much the case in the month of August, before he got injured, but on the whole he’d had another excellent year out of the bullpen. He was one of Bruce Bochy’s most trusted relievers, and, walk problems aside, he absolutely deserved to be. In terms of pure stuff, he was as great as you could hope for. His control could be lacking occasionally, but when he got into the strike zone, he was hard to hit. He was almost everything you could hope for from a reliever, and just cutting down on the walks would make him one of the elite relievers in the game, though now, it’ll be a while before he has a chance to get there.

If I were Reyes Moronta, I would have simply not torn my labrum. RIP to Reyes’s shoulder, but I’m different.

Role on the 2019 Giants

One of the many shutdown relievers who, for various reasons, stopped shutting guys down as soon as the trade deadline passed. The ‘pen had been such an obvious strength all season, but as soon as August rolled around, that trend reversed itself with the opposite of flying colors. After being the 7th best bullpen by fWAR in the first half of the season, it was quite a shock when August rolled around and the Giants bullpen was the second worst in the league, better only than the Marlins.

Moronta was a big part of that. His ERA was only 4.15 in August, but his peripherals were awful: 6.23 K/9, 10.38 BB/9, a 6.79 FIP, and an 8.50 xFIP. Batters his .197/.314/.298 against him all year; in August, they hit .219/.405/.375 (in 2018, for comparison, the league hit .154/.272/.235 against Moronta, though that was a more pitcher-friendly ball and environment). He was, pretty clearly, not the same pitcher as he’d been earlier in the year, even if his ERA was better than it was in May.

I’m no sports doctor, but it seems reasonable to attribute at least some of that decline to his shoulder, barking and squealing at him before it finally popped. Or maybe Moronta was sad that some of his friends got traded and it affected how he pitched! Boy, wouldn’t that be something?

Probably the shoulder thing though.

Role on the 2020 Giants

At best, he’ll be a late season jolt of energy to the bullpen. Moronta had surgery on his torn labrum in September, and the team expected his rehab to take 11 months, putting him on track to return in August of 2020.

But a lot of things can go wrong when rehabbing a shoulder, or a lot of things can look like they might go wrong and cause the team to take things slower, and so there’s no real way to know at this point when, or even if, Moronta will be back in 2020. There’s also no real way to know how effective he’ll be once he returns. And so, the only one who actually knows what Moronta’s role will be next year is our old friend, Shrug Guy Emoticon.

SHRUG GUY EMOTICON: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Thanks, Shrug Guy Emoticon!

How Farhan is Reyes Moronta?

2 Farhans!

A healthy Moronta would, of course, be a very Farhan player. He’s cheap, he has options, and he’s very good at pitching. These are the holy trinity of Farhan factors.

But Reyes Moronta is not healthy, and the earliest he could return is August of next year. This offseason, he’ll be dead weight on the 40-man roster, as he’ll have to take up a spot that could go to someone else until the Giants are able to put Moronta on the 60-day DL during Spring Training. Thus, despite the many virtues of a healthy Reyes Moronta, the current injured one is just not all that Farhan of a baseball player.