Sorting Out The San Francisco Giants 2019 “Bullpen” Mystery
By John Wilhelmsson
Perhaps the biggest challenge in analyzing the rest of the San Francisco Giants pitching staff is figuring out just what exactly to call them?
The San Francisco Giants will endure a lot of change in philosophy in 2019. One of those changes is the pitching staff. With the “opener” trend, the lines are going to become blurred between bullpen and rotation. So what should we call it? A “Bullpen” may be defined in many ways:
1. An enclosure for bulls.
2. An exercise area for baseball pitchers.
3. The relief pitchers of a baseball team.
4. A place prisoners are held before a hearing.
If we substitute “bull” for “bulls” perhaps #1 is most correct? Then again, if throwing around the “bull” is an exercise perhaps #2 is correct as well? The advent of “Openers” seems to have fouled up #3 with #4 having perhaps more of a literary than literal meaning.
A bullpen can also be like a religion in that the last, in this case “The Closer”, is often given first consideration. And, to keep with the religious theme, a pitcher who finishes a game successfully is often given a “Save.”
Here although the analogy seems to break down as “Saves” in religion are thought of only in the positive while a baseball pitcher who fails to finish a game well can get what is called a “Blown Save.” And, as a matter of fact, the San Francisco Giants Bullpen had 30 of these “Blown Saves”, to lead all of MLB, in 2018!
Thus the key question about the San Francisco Giants Bullpen of 2019 is who should be the Closer? Will Smith finished 2018 as the Closer yet there is much doubt that he will even be with the team in 2019 because he has outstanding trade value and the Giants have so many other needs. Righties Mark Melancon and Sam Dyson have both been good Closers in the past yet have also both failed badly so gambling the role on them seems unwise.
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However, there is one guy the Giants already have who might be perfect for the role. His name is Reyes Moronta. Moronta already has perhaps the best “Stuff” of any pitcher in the Giants’ Bullpen as he throws in the high nineties and only gave up 34 hits in 65 innings last year. Thus he seems positioned well for the Closer role.
In many ways, Moronta’s ability to step into the Closer role might be the key to the 2019 Giants. For if the Giants believe he can be their Closer it will allow them to trade Will Smith for a quality outfielder who can improve their feeble 2018 hitting.
So let’s take a look at the Giants 2019 Bullpen, minus Will Smith, with Reyes Moronta as the Closer.
From the right side we have the aforementioned Mark Melancon and Sam Dyson along with young flamethrowers Ray Black and Melvin Adon with the right-handed version of Pat Venditte also in the mix.
From the left side we have Tony Watson and Steve Okert along with newcomers Travis Bergen and the left-handed version of Pat Veditte.
In long relief we have the combination of swingmen Chris Stratton and Ty Blach (assuming either is not in the starting rotation).
Yet the key to the Giants 2019 Bullpen is Reyes Moronta. If he can become an effective Closer then there is enough experience and talent here for the Giants to trade Will Smith, improve their hitting, and still have a better Bullpen in 2019. And since the San Francisco Giants Bullpen of 2018 blew 30 Saves it really isn’t too much “bull” to say being better in the New Year is well within reach.