Next on our 2021 San Francisco Giants season reviews is right-handed reliever Reyes Moronta.
4 games, 4 innings, 2.25 ERA, 5.42 FIP, 0.250 WHIP, 0.1 rWAR, 0.0 fWAR
It wasn’t long ago that Reyes Moronta looked like the closer of the Giants future. You were excited for many years of Moronta’s endearing pitching face as he stared down a hitter in the ninth inning, stood upright, glanced around the stadium in that way he does, and then delivered heat past a poor, helpless batter, before punching the air and emitting an animalistic noise.
It was a lovely experience.
So how did we get here from there?
Moronta suffered a serious arm injury in 2019, in the midst of a delightful season. It kept him out for the final month of the year, and all of 2020.
He was back on the roster for opening day in 2021, and we were all thrilled. Understandably, the Giants weren’t giving him the closing role, or the setup role — half the result of him having not pitched in over a year and a half, and half because Jake McGee and Tyler Rogers existed — but he did well in his first few outings, pitching the sixth and seventh innings. Through four games and as many innings he’d allowed just one baserunner, albeit a home run.
And then he was injured again. At first it seemed mild, as the team called it a right flexor strain and placed him on the 10-day IL. But he was eventually moved to the 60-day IL.
He never returned to the Giants roster. He did return to AAA Sacramento, which was good to see, but unfortunately the results were not.
In 18 innings with the River Cats, Moronta issued a whopping 26 walks to go along with 22 hits. Allowing more hits than innings is bad. Allowing more walks than innings is disastrous. Allowing more of each?
Well, let’s just say it made us all sad.
The hope for all of us — Moronta in particular — is that the poor performance was merely due to the injury, and he’ll be able to recover in 2022. The Giants, however, don’t seem particularly optimistic of this fact, as they eventually designated him for assignment. He cleared waivers and was outrighted back to Sacramento, but elected free agency when the offseason began.
It’s not out of the picture for Moronta to re-sign with the Giants on a Minor League deal, but it’s certainly not something anyone should count on.
Role in 2022
Who knows! Moronta could return on a Minor League deal, in which case his role will be to continue rehabbing in the Minors, while trying to prove that he can get back to being a high-quality, high-leverage reliever.
But more likely is that he’ll do the same thing for a different organization.