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Bullpen trust rankings, April 2019 edition

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Who do we trust in the bullpen? Who do we not trust?

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh Pirates
This picture makes Moronta look like he’s about to throw the ball sidearm. Which maybe he can!
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

April is over, and you know what that means: Time to power rank the relievers!

YOU: I did not know that April being over meant that

Well, you know now!

This is a bit that I did in 2016, and then the bullpen collapsed in on itself, formed a singularity in which the laws of physics ceased to have any meaning, and sucked the entire team beyond its event horizon.

In 2018. I came back to the bit, and while the team collapsed, it wasn’t the bullpen’s fault, so I felt entirely vindicated. And now the bit is back once again! Are you excited? Get excited!

Reminder: the premise of this bit is I’m power ranking relievers by how much we trust them when they come into a game. Think of this as going from Wayne Franklin (very not trusted) to Robb Nen (very trusted). Okay? Okay. Let’s get started.

9. Ty Blach

Point A: I’m writing this section on Tuesday night, and it’s entirely possible he won’t be on the roster by the time it goes up on Wednesday.

Point B: Boy, Ty Blach sure had a regrettable outing last night.

YOU: Weren’t those two points supposed to disagree and thus create an interesting discussion?
ME: You’re thinking of Point-Counterpoint. This is just Point-Point. They agree on stuff after coming at it from slightly different angles. It’s the hottest trend in sportswriting.
YOU: I’m...90% sure that’s not true.

8. Travis Bergen

Bergen had a hiccup in Washington, giving up four runs in an inning in one outing, and then failing two retire his two batters the next day. He’d been excellent before that and was fine last night too, retiring the two Dodgers he faced in an extremely non-stress situation. I’m honestly fairly optimistic about him, but he doesn’t have the strong major league track record to back that up, so until pitches well in a large sample of innings this year, he’ll sit closer to the bottom of this list than the top.

7. Tony Watson

In 2018, Tony Watson had his best year ever in terms of strikeouts, with both his K% and K/9 hitting career highs. In 2019, they’re both at career lows by a lot, and his ERA, FIP, and xFIP are all in the 4s. It could just be a blip — it probably is! — but what we’ve seen this year from Watson just isn’t as impressive as what he did last year.

Take the sequence from Monday night’s game against the Dodgers: Bruce Bochy pulled Jeff Samardzija after five inning because he had Watson for the lefty-lefty matchups he wanted, and Watson gave up hits to four of the five batters he faced before Sam Dyson bailed him out. It was a very uninspiring outing, to say the least, in exactly the kind of situation that Watson is here for.

6. Nick Vincent

He’s pretty good.

If you’re expecting more of an opinion on Nick Vincent than that, you’ve come to the wrong place.

5. Sam Dyson

NARRATOR: Previously on Bullpen Trust Rankings

...Watson gave up hits to four of the five batters he faced before Sam Dyson bailed him out.

NARRATOR: And now the conclusion

...before Sam Dyson bailed him out by giving up an absolute line shot that just happened to find Brandon Crawford’s glove when Cody Bellinger was too far off third base for a very lucky double play. Seems less good when I say it that way, huh?

Dyson’s been a good pitcher in the early going, and his peripherals are better than they were last year, with a higher strikeout rate, and lower walk and home run rates, as well as exceptionally low exit velocity. His ERA is a little bit up, but if he keeps pitching like he has been, he’s going to have a very, very nice season.

4. Mark Melancon

All offseason, everyone talked like Armando Benitez was the first coming of Mark Melancon. But here he is, sitting pretty. And this isn’t a weak 4 either. The first time I did this bit last year, Pierce Johnson came in at number 4 by default, because all but three other guys were having rough starts to the year. Melancon was legitimately excellent this April, and deserves to be very high on the list. The only reason he’s not higher is that there are three other guys who have been legitimately excellenter.

Sure would be nice if some of those strikeouts came back, though.

3. Trevor Gott

Trevor Gott has been phenomenal in the early going, and Washington must be kicking themselves. The Giants bullpen is the team’s only strength, while the Nationals bullpen is a horror show, and they DFA’d Gott over the offseason to make some more roster space. But there’s a solution right there, just waiting for some brave soul to propose it. The Nationals need bullpen arms. The Giants need young outfielders. Gott for Robles, straight up. It’s a win-win!

2. Will Smith

So far, Smith has done an admirable job of only allowing runs in games that the Giants are definitely going to lose. He gave up three to the Yankees to make an 8-4 game an 11-4 game, and he gave up one to the Padres which extended their 2-1 lead to 3-1. Both of those were obviously insurmountable deficits, so Smith has picked his spots well. Other than an unsustainable 0% HR/FB rate, his peripherals have taken a slight hit from last year, but they’re still well into phenomenal territory. Right now, there just isn’t a lot to worry about here.

1. Reyes Moronta

The walks will always be worrisome, but on the other hand, holy crap, have you seen him pitch?

That’s it, that’s the analysis. Holy crap, have you seen him pitch?

Yeah, he’s striking out 14 batters per 9 innings, but that doesn’t tell the whole story, because holy crap, have you seen him pitch? His fast ball averages 97 MPH, his changeup comes in at 90, he’s ridiculous and delightful, and there’s nothing better than watching him take the mound.

All hail our hero, Reyes Moronta, because holy crap, have you seen him pitch?