Who is Reyes Moronta?
Nicknamed El Tibu (the shark), he was born in Dominican Republic in 1993. The personality characteristics of a shark are observant, curious, fearless, solitary, aggressive, ruthless/persistent, and cunning/opportunistic per this article. These characteristics seem about right for an excellent relief pitcher.
He has earned nearly 5 years of service time in the Majors. His career in the Majors has been longer than about 67% of all pitchers who make a debut in the Majors per this article.
Reyes Moronta tried several roles in the minors.
After signing as an international free agent in 2010, his roles in the minors included:
- Long relief in 2011.
- Starter in 2013.
- Closer (75% of appearances in 2015 and 50% of appearances in 2016 were as game finishing pitcher). Perhaps the Giants saw his potential to be a closer.
He had success with the Giants.
For three seasons (2017 to 2019) his ERA was 2.66 and his FIP was 3.38. His four-seam fastball velocity increased each season (95.8 to 96.8 to 97.2 MPH) with an improving run value per 100 pitches (RV/100) (-0.9 to -1.5 to -1.7).
His ERA+ was awesome (166 in 2017, 153 in 2018, and 147 in 2019). His ERA+ ranked #2 in the Giants bullpen in 2017 and 2018. In 2019, although his ERA+ was about the same, it ranked #7.
He came back from two injuries.
At the end of the 2019 season, he tore the labrum in his pitching shoulder. He returned to the Majors in spring training for the 2021 season. He talked about his faith that his velocity would return as his shoulder strengthened.
“First of all I have faith and I hope that my speed is going to come back. To be honest with you my mental concern was just to pitch, not worry about the speed because I know that eventually my shoulder is going to get stronger and I’m going to be at 98 MPH.” — Reyes Moronta, March 13, 2021
In April of 2021, after pitching four games, he strained his forearm flexor muscle. That season he did not return to the Majors. At the end of the season the Giants released him.
In March of 2022, he signed a minors’ contract with the Dodgers. Except for his strikeout rate, his pitching wasn’t close to reaching his previous levels. Nevertheless, four times the Dodgers promoted him to the Majors and four times they optioned him back to the minors. The next promotion was his last because they DFA’d him and the Diamondbacks acquired him off waivers.
His pitching for the Diamondbacks was much improved compared to the Dodgers.
I don’t know what Reyes Moronta changed to improve, but I give considerable credit to the Diamondbacks coaches!
The following table shows statistics indicating Reyes Moronta’s improved pitching was by some statistics as good as, or better than, his most successful years of 2017-2019. Most impressive were he increased his fastball velocity and he allowed zero home runs. Sometimes used as an indicator of future pitching, his 2.38 FIP is encouraging.
Does Reyes Moronta add value to the Diamondbacks bullpen?
The following table shows wOBA for many of the Diamondbacks relievers. Green means better wOBA than the average in the Majors. Reyes Moronta was one of four who pitched better than average in August and better than league average in September through the 24th.
Could Reyes Moronta close for the Diamondbacks?
Reyes Moronta saved games on 20 and 24 September. Possibly he can help the Diamondbacks win games late, which Torey Lovullo and the front office will discuss in the offseason.
“We know that we have lost a lot of games late. ... [It’s] a topic of discussion for us in the offseason. We have a great front office that is going to figure this out. We are going to find a way to win baseball games late.” — Torey Lovullo, 21 September 2022
The following table shows four statistics from the last inning pitched in each game. In September Reyes Moronta was the best, or tied for the best, in all four statistics. The four statistics were save percent, on-base-percent (OBP) against, Got-The-Job-Done (GTJD) (allowed no earned runs and no inherited runners scored), and built innings (allowing 5 batters to reach the plate is a built inning).
Reyes Moronta, nicknamed the shark, had great success with the Giants from 2017 to 2019. Then he overcame two injuries. In 2022, although his pitching was not yet back to previous levels of excellence, the Dodgers promoted/optioned him four times.
The Diamondbacks claimed him off waivers. Something significant changed. Pitching for the Diamondbacks, some statistics show his pitching is back to excellent. He is a valuable addition to the Diamondbacks bullpen.
In the last 7 days, he earned two saves. Next season, perhaps as a closer he will help the Diamondbacks win games late.