June is over, so it’s time to look at which relievers we trust and which we really don’t! Last month, both Sam Coonrod and Pablo Sandoval made the list; this month, they are not currently major league relievers (though there’s always a chance with Pablo) and Trevor Gott is back.
As always, this list goes from least trusted reliever to most trusted reliever, so, like, Wayne Franklin to the guy in the 2004 bullpen who we would have trusted if we had trusted anyone in the 2004 bullpen. Maybe Dustin Hermanson when not pitching for five days in a row, FELIPE.
Anyway, let’s get to it!
8. Dereck Rodriguez (Last ranked: 6)
I’m not gonna be too hard on Rodriguez, whose struggles I wrote a whole thing about last week.
I mean, other than ranking him last, I’m not gonna be too hard on him.
7. Derek Holland (Last ranked: 9)
Holland was quietly decent as a reliever in June, rocking a 3.55 ERA. Now, those were in low leverage situations (and all but one were losses please don’t get mad at me for saying that Derek) and FIP and SIERA both weren’t super impressed with some of the underlying metrics.
However, progress is progress, and it was Holland’s best month of the year. It’s not a stretch to say that Derek Holland can be an effective major league pitcher — it happened just last year! — and he’s closer to that goal than he was in either of the first two months of the season. That’s good! We should all be happy when good things happen to Giants.
6. Trevor Gott (Last ranked: Not ranked)
Yes, I’m ranking Gott below Mark Melancon. I know any praise for Melancon, even backhanded praise, is unpopular among Giants fans right now, but allow me to explain:
Trevor Gott has been terrible for the last month.
He’s been worse than Melancon, and he doesn’t have a track record of success to make you think he’ll come out of it.
YOU: WHAT ABOUT MARK MELANCON’S TRACK RECORD OVER THE LAST THREE YEA-
ME: I’M GETTING TO THAT
Plus, the Nationals gave up on him. The Washington Nationals! The Washington Nationals who have had a 6.32 bullpen ERA this year! Before the season, they were like, “That guy? Nah, we’re good.” That’s not 100% of the Trevor Gott story, but it isn’t 0% either, and after a relentlessly bad month from Gott coming off his injury, you have to at least think about it.
Man, was he solid early in the year though.
5. Mark Melancon (Last ranked: 5)
Now, none of that is to say that Melancon is good. He had a miserable month of June that melted away all the promise of his great April, and he looked bad doing it.
But on the other hand, a lot of that was bad luck. Melancon had a .500 BABIP in June, and while he had a terrible game on Saturday night that you probably remember very clearly, a lot of that really was just due to poor batted ball luck. Bruce Bochy joked before yesterday’s game that he was seeing bleeders sneak through the infield in his sleep, and there’s something to that. Melancon is honestly, legitimately, clearly not as bad as he looked in June.
But back to the first hand, that doesn’t mean he’s good. At this point in Melancon’s career, it’s clear that he’s never going to be that dominant, lockdown closer again. He’s just a guy who will work medium leverage situations for a bad baseball team. That’s about what he should be doing. Overpaid as he is, he’s in the role he should be in.
4. Sam Dyson (Last ranked: 3)
When Will Smith (spoiler alert: he’s going to rank first on this list) gets traded, the Giants will need a new closer. When the Giants need a new closer, judging by how Bochy’s managed on Smith’s off days this year, the first guy they’ll turn to is likely to be Sam Dyson. And I don’t care for it.
Back in 2017, when Dyson fell apart as a Ranger, he was their closer. His stuff wasn’t especially different from when he was good, but it all stopped working, and he got traded, and that’s all fine and good.
Last year, after Hunter Strickland defended his honor against a barbaric clubhouse door, Bruce Bochy called on Dyson to serve as interim closer. He lasted a week, and was terrible, despite being in the middle of a very good year, paving the way for Smith. Dyson just seems to be a guy who shouldn’t be in the ninth inning.
This is all horribly unfair and unscientific. And yet, Dyson will probably get the first shot at being closer in Smith’s absence, and I trust him there less than either Watson or Moronta, and so this is his spot on the list.
3. Tony Watson (Last ranked: 4)
Do you ever just kinda forget about Tony Watson? I do, and I mean that in the best way possible.
2. Reyes Moronta (Last ranked: 2)
Reyes Moronta is an absolute delight to watch throw baseballs. He didn’t give up an earned run in June, and while his strikeout rate declined during the month, his walk rate also plummeted. Moronta can be an excellent pitcher even if his strikeout rate sharply decreases. But in order for him to be a great one, the walks have to come down too. So that’s a tradeoff that is promising for him, and the career he’s going to have.
I mean, if he wants to just decrease his walk rate and also increase his strikeout rate, well hey, that works for me too.
1. Will Smith (Last ranked: 1)
You knew this was coming. Will Smith is the best pitcher on the team, and a richly deserving All-Star in a year when the Giants don’t deserve very many riches. He gave up a run on Friday night — Quelle horreur! — and suddenly the sky was falling, up was down, and black was white. You just expect him to shut down the other team, and to do it calmly, easily, and quietly. He’s a great reliever for the same reason he’d be a terrible reality show contestant: he doesn’t bring any drama.