The SF Giants bullpen obviously had its struggles in 2020, but could Reyes Moronta’s return from injury be enough to get the unit back on track next season?
The SF Giants were without their hard-throwing right-handed reliever Reyes Moronta in the shortened 2020 season as he recovered from a shoulder injury. The team contemplated giving him a chance to return at the end of the season but decided to shut him down so he could make sure to have enough time in his recovery. Now set to return in 2021, could his presence in the bullpen provide some stability after several heartbreaking blown games last season?
We all recall those heartbreaks from last season with Trevor Gott or Sam Coonrod on the mound, blowing multiple games that could have propelled the Giants into the playoffs. The lack of a clear closer likely hindered the Giants last year, so could the return of Moronta give the Giants the stability they need at the back of the bullpen?
Manager Gabe Kapler has told reporters that Moronta will have a chance to compete for the closer job in 2021. Even coming off an injury, it is not hard to understand why. Before Moronta went down, he threw a fastball that could touch triple digits with a nasty slider that could touch 90 mph and an occasional changeup that flashed screwball like movement. It is the kind of stuff that you dream of your closer having, even with a bit less command than is ideal. Of course, the question remains how much of his pre-injury stuff he can bring back.
In 2018 and 2019, Moronta recorded a 2.49 and 2.86 ERA respectively. On average, he struck out 11 batters per nine innings. Both statistics are exactly what you would want out of a hard-throwing reliever, the only sticking point may be the high rate of walks Moronta has surrendered which is also not out of character for a flamethrower. Still, his propensity to avoid hard contact is far more important.
A lot still remains to be seen with Moronta. In the 2021 Spring Training, we will be able to get a better gauge of how Moronta has progressed since his injury and whether he has lost any velocity on that fastball. The Giants wanted Moronta to prioritize getting in physical shape in 2021 this offseason. Given his previous struggles with conditioning, that could help him unlock another level of dominance. After all, he’s still just 27-years old.
Given how disappointing the bullpen was for the SF Giants last season, it is hard not to be a little excited at the prospect of Reyes Moronta returning next season. Even if he could rekindle most of his old self on the mound, he could be a reliable closer that provides the stability at the back of the bullpen the team needs.