Laurila: Q&A with Giants reliever Ray Black

From SABR member David Laurila at FanGraphs on November 20, 2018:

Ray Black hasn’t received much attention here at FanGraphs. That’s understandable. The 28-year-old San Francisco Giants reliever has consistently been clocked at over 100 mph, but only when he’s not on the shelf. And he’s spent a lot of time on the shelf.

Black had Tommy John surgery as a high school senior, a knee issue in college, then missed his first two-plus professional seasons after undergoing labrum surgery. A seventh-round pick by the Giants in 2011, Black didn’t take the mound until 2014. More obstacles followed. Notable among them were a second elbow surgery — this time to remove a bone spur — which resulted in him missing almost all of 2017.

This past season he missed a lot of bats — and not just down on the farm. Black made his long-in-coming MLB debut in early July and went on to fan 33 batters in 23.1 innings. He was even more overpowering in the minors, logging 66 punch-outs in 35.2 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Not surprisingly, velocity played a big role in that success; he reached triple digits numerous times.

His heater and a return to health weren’t the only reasons he reached the big leagues this summer. With the help of San Francisco’s minor league pitching coordinator, and the Giants analytics staff, Black has become a bit of pitching nerd.

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Originally published: November 20, 2018. Last Updated: November 20, 2018.