With Brian Wilson Out, Who Gets to Close?
Bad news today for the Giants, Brian Wilson may be headed for surgery, which may end his season early. The reduced velocity we saw in Colorado was apparently the result of a bum elbow, and now we find ourselves in something of a bullpen mire.
In terms of pure stuff, the logical choice to close would be Sergio Romo. The only problem is that Bochy has been reluctant to use him as anything more than a righty specialist despite the fact that he’s by far the best reliever we have. So that leaves everyone else, as reports out of the clubhouse say that it’ll be a closer by committee, with Santiago Casilla getting the lion’s share of time in the role. But who deserves it most?
- Pros: Romo’s a control-oriented strikeout artist, making him an ideal choice to finish games. Last season opposing hitters managed to hit just .173/.197/.262 against him, with an other-worldly K/BB ratio of 14.
- Cons: Historically has struggled against lefties, although “struggle” is really a relative term when it comes to Sergio, as his split last year against them was .229/.245/.354. Also has a history of elbow problems although has managed to stay relatively healthy.
- Facial Hair: Has the beardiness needed to close in San Francisco, which will ease the transition for all of us.
- Pros: Casilla has the “closer stuff” that old school managers like Bochy look for: high velocity and a hard slider. Opposing hitters hit just .183/.290/.244 against him in 2011, with a K/9 of 7.8.
- Cons: Has always struggled with his control, with a career BB/9 of 4.5 and a 1.80 K/BB ratio. Has just as pronounced a platoon split as Romo (lefties hit .234/.319/.313 against him in 2011), but for whatever reason doesn’t have the same reputation as a righty specialist.
- Facial Hair: Doesn’t have much to speak of, but I’m willing to give him a chance to try. Maybe try not shaving for a couple weeks and see what happens, Santiago.
- Pros: Affeldt’s biggest advantage over Romo and Casilla is that he last the least pronounced platoon split, as he’s managed to handle both lefties and righties throughout his career. Finished last season with 7.9 K/9 and a K/BB ratio of 2.25. For the most part he keeps the ball on the ground and out of the seats, as he has a reputation for being a ground ball pitcher.
- Cons: Has struggled with his control of late, as he’s recorded a BB/9 under 3.5 just twice in his 11 year career (‘03 and ‘08). He’s also a valuable middle reliever who can go multiple innings and likely would be wasted if he limited to just ninth inning duties.
- Facial Hair: Has a monstrosity of a soul patch-like mess on his chin, automatically disqualifying him in this category.
Past these three our options are fairly limited. Javier Lopez can’t get righties out, Dan Otero has just a handful of Major League innings to his name, Clay Hensley reminds me too much of Brad Hennessey, and Guillermo Mota is the emergency “bail Tim Lincecum out of the fourth inning” guy right now. My vote goes to Romo but my gut tells me Bochy will go with some combination of Casilla to righties and Lopez to lefties. But I’ve been known to be wrong on some rare occasions very often. Get well soon, Brian.