The San Francisco Giants took a low risk chance in June, trading for struggling closer Sam Dyson. Though uncertain at the time, Dyson is becoming a staple in the bullpen for the orange and black.
Sam Dyson had high expectations as the closer for the Rangers heading into the 2017 season. However, Dyson was traded to the San Francisco Giants after a tumultuous start to the season, where he went 1-6 with a 10.80 ERA and 4 blown saves.
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Seeing Dyson struggle to this magnitude was shocking. He was nails in the bullpen for the Rangers in 2016, converting 38/43 save opportunities, while boasting a 2.43 ERA. Then, in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, he was a standout on the champion United States squad, throwing six perfect innings.
The World Baseball Classic was filled with incredibly talented teams, so it is not like Dyson’s success was considered a fluke. He also maintained his mid-90’s velocity, which shows fatigue was not the cause of his struggles. That is what makes it odd that he crumbled when the regular season started.
One issue that Dyson had was not being able to generate enough movement on his pitches. His career 7.2 K/9 shows that he is most likely not going to blow it by anyone. Instead, he relies heavily on sinking movement.
Getting sinking action on pitches allows Dyson to induce a lot of ground balls. When he was not able to generate his usual movement on his pitches, he severely struggled. In April, he went 0-3 with a 17.18 ERA and 3 blown saves.
There was some improvement for Dyson in May. He was able to pick up his first win and lower his ERA to 10.80 after being demoted from the closer role, but he lost three more games and blew one more save. After an extra innings loss on May 31st to the Rays, the Rangers decided they had enough and designated Dyson for assignment.
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The San Francisco Giants acquired Dyson and cash on June 6th for a player to be named later. I admit, I was skeptical about the move initially. I wondered why the Giants would sign a struggling reliever on top of the struggles they were already having. Then, I thought about it and realized that neither side had anything to lose.
The bullpen has been one of the many areas of weakness for the Giants in 2017. The Mark Melancon signing has not worked out like the team envisioned. Melancon spent time on the DL in May due to an elbow injury and blew two saves before Dyson’s signing. That, mixed with struggles from other relievers, meant a change was necessary.
Dyson’s first outing in a Giants uniform did not go well. He gave up three runs (two earned) on two hits and one walk, without recording a single out. I remember after watching that performance, I felt his struggles did not surprise me.
However, Dyson has been reliable ever since that outing, proving me and my doubts wrong. Aside, from a June 24th loss to the Mets, and a blown save against the Dodgers, he has been a significant asset in the bullpen.
In fact, he has taken over as the closer after Melancon’s second stint on the DL at the end of June. Since taking over Melancon’s role, he has converted 12 saves, while only blowing one–a stark difference from his ratio with the Rangers earlier in the year.
He still remains the closer, even since Melancon’s return and it has worked out nicely for the Giants so far. I can even see Dyson being a serious part of the the team’s future plans.
My bet is that Melancon returns as the closer next year and Dyson slides into the 8th inning set up role. Don’t get me wrong, Melancon has been great as a setup man, but ultimately he is a closer. Pair this with Hunter Strickland in the 7th inning and the Giants can have a pretty reliable core in the bullpen. This is also contingent on Melancon’s health and Strickland decreasing his walk rate and furthering his secondary pitch development.
Dyson’s resurgence shows that sometimes a change of scenery is necessary. Since coming to the Giants, he is 1-1 with a 2.22 ERA and 12 saves in 28.1 innings. His effectiveness has been a pleasant surprise and is looking like an absolute steal for the orange and black thus far.
Dyson is only 29 and arbitration eligible in 2018 and I believe the Giants should take a serious look at keeping him in their future plans.