One of the most impactful moments for the 2020 Giants actually came on August 31, 2019.
That's the day Reyes Moronta threw a pitch and crumpled to the ground, clutching a shoulder that would need surgery a few days later. The second his shoulder gave out, Moronta was lost for most of the 2020 season, and as it turned out, he didn't end up in the big leagues at all during a shortened 60-game season.
Perhaps the biggest single need for the team was one Moronta could have filled. The Giants were short on dependable right-handed relievers, with some of the season's enduring memories being blown saves by Trevor Gott and Sam Coonrod. That's a role Moronta was supposed to fill for this roster.
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While the hard-throwing 27-year-old still was taking rehab steps when Gott had his four-day meltdown, Moronta was close to available late in the year. He had been throwing bullpen sessions at the alternate site in Sacramento and got up to 95 mph on the radar gun, but when a taxi squad was brought down to a San Francisco hotel the final week of the season, Moronta instead was told he could fly home for the winter.
As he met with reporters over Zoom last week, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said the staff was "hoping Reyes would be in a position to help us at the end of the year." The original timeline had him back in the big leagues in August, but Zaidi said the Giants never felt quite comfortable with that final step.
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"He was throwing at the alternate site and we just didn't see him really getting over the hump and showing the kind of stuff that we saw from him last year. It was really as much a medical assessment as a performance assessment," Zaidi explained. "We just really didn't want to put him in harm's way by really escalating the intensity on him at a time when he didn't seem really back to full strength.
"It was disappointing because he certainly could have helped us in the last couple of weeks of the season if we were getting 2018-2019 Reyes Moronta, but part of not calling him up is investing in what we think he can give us next year and maybe not rushing him back and putting him into those really intense situations at a time when we weren't 100 percent confident in him medically will give him a better chance to come to camp next year."
That's the silver lining to all of this. That hole still exists on the roster, and Moronta's recovery will be one of the most important storylines of the offseason. If he's 100 percent next spring, he looks like the best in-house option to give the Giants a dependable closer. Zaidi said Moronta "absolutely" could be in that mix next year.
"I think as long as he's been in this organization he's been viewed as a potential closer-in-waiting, so if it works out that way it'd be great," Zaidi said. "We certainly still have high hopes for him."