It seems safe to say that the Sam Dyson experiment has failed. The San Francisco Giants made Dyson their closer after Hunter Strickland broke his hand following a blown save. The decision to replace Strickland with Dyson was questioned by many, and it seems those with questions were right.
In his last seven games, Dyson has posted an ERA of 6.43. Before becoming the Giants’ closer, Dyson’s ERA was just 2.51. Dyson had been pitching pretty well right before he became the closer, but he had struggled through April. He was never the Giants most consistent pitcher, and that’s exactly what the Giants should have been looking for in a closer.
Dyson should never have been made a closer in the first place, and the Giants are finally starting to realize that. Hopefully without the pressures of closing, Dyson will find a way out of his slump and get back to helping the Giants in earlier innings.
Last night the Giants used Will Smith as their closer instead of Dyson. It was his first save of the season, and just the second save of his major league career. There’s no official word yet on if Smith will become the Giants permanent closer until Strickland returns, but he is a pretty good candidate.
This year Smith has an ERA of just 1.13; his career ERA is 3.67. If Smith could keep his ERA under two it would be his best season by far. The only trouble with choosing Smith as a closer is that his pitching this year comes with a relatively small sample size. He has only pitched 24 innings this year, and he missed all of 2017 after having Tommy John surgery. So far, his return has been excellent, but it is a bit early to tell if his success will continue for the rest of the year.
If the Giants want to err on the side of caution they may want to use Reyes Moronta or Tony Watson as a closer instead. Both pitchers have ERAs under two and have pitched in at least 35 innings this year. Unlike the other potential candidates, Watson has experience as a closer and has 30 saves in his career. He has already proven that he can handle the pressure of closing.
The other option the Giants have is to try and trade for a closer, but that’s easier said than done. A talented bullpen pitcher is a valuable commodity that few teams are willing to part with. Even if the Giants could find a potential closer on the trade market, the price would be expensive.
Choosing Dyson as the replacement closer was a mistake, but they have plenty of options to replace him. A quick fix with a trade is tempting, but it’s unnecessary. Bruce Bochy has Smith, Watson and Moronta available to him, and this time he needs to make sure he picks the right one.