While a closer by committee bullpen works in rare occasions, most teams generally don’t find much success in the tactic. The winners have one closer, and everyone on the roster knows that. Right now, the Giants don’t have a set-in-stone closer, nor does there appear to be any set roles assigned. There’s no flow.
The loss of Brian Wilson has come back to bite the Giants. After Santiago Casilla posted a spectacular 1.17 ERA in his first 24 appearances, Wilson’s loss didn’t seem to hurt so bad. Sure, everybody loves Wilson’s beard and antics, but his fellow bullpen mate (Casilla) appeared to have better stuff than him, and he took the closer’s job and ran with it.
The calendar flipped to June and Casilla was quietly making a case for an All-Star bid. In fact, he was arguably the best closer in the National League at the time. However, June struck pretty hard on him. In 27 appearances since June 1st, he has totaled a 5.85 ERA, blown five saves, and most notably, lost his job as the Giants’ closer
Now, Wilson is starting to come back into the picture. The bearded one won’t be making the current situation any brighter for the Giants. All he can do is watch the Giants’ scuffling bullpen surrender run after run. Granted, his knack of making close games “torture” has rubbed off on Casilla and others for that matter, there’s a bold difference— Wilson always got the final out unscathed, while the current Giants in the ‘pen don’t possess that vital trait (perhaps he will wind up in the Giants 2013 plans after all).
Which brings us to the question— why did skipper Bruce Bochy strip Casilla of his closer duties and call for a closer by committee situation?
Because he didn’t have a choice? That’s no excuse. Yes, Bochy provided Casilla with a surplus of chances to rebound, but his mind-boggling decision to switch to the tactic has yet to pay off, mainly because guys are out of their respective comfort zones. Sergio Romo isn’t a closer. His fragile knees and scurvy slider that punishes his arm, are two components that will always hinder his chances of ever becoming a closer. While he can fill-in occasionally, the set-up man role suits him best as it’s less of a workload.
Jeremy Affeldt is not a closer either. He might’ve saved 14 games for the Royals in 2004, but he’s not 25 anymore, he’s 33. When he’s at best, he fills the lefty specialist role or the guy who comes in and east up a few innings.
Simply, not everyone is born to be a closer. The Giants’ 2010 World Series bullpen was one of the best in the game at the time. Why? Everyone had specific roles. This 2012 Giants ‘pen is everything but organized, which is exactly why Casilla should get another chance to fill a struggling area of need.
Casilla’s return to the closer’s spot would eliminate the guessing game. Plus, he has displayed that he boasts the potential to be a closer. Maybe his minor blister injury wasn’t a sneaky joke. Maybe it was actually effecting his off-speed pitches. That’s a mystery that will never be fully solved. However, one thing is fairly well-known— Casilla must utilize his nasty off speed pitches rather than heavily relying on his fastball to induce outs. That has been said many times before, but it’s spot on.
If the Giants reach the playoffs, one thing is for sure— a closer by committee approach isn’t going to earn them a spot in the World Series. As wobbly as their bullpen has been in 2012, there must be some consistency in roles for improvement to take place.
Starting pitching and a good bullpen is a recipe for success. Thus far, the Giants don’t have a very good recipe.