There’s a saying in baseball that goes, “If you watch a baseball game you’re bound to see something you’ve never seen before.”
Tonight’s Giants game ended with one of those plays. After allowing 3 consecutive hits to allow the Padres to tie the game at 6 in the 10th inning, Santiago Casilla committed a balk with a runner on 3rd, allowing San Diego to score the winning run. I’ve watched/listened to/played baseball since I was 3 years old. I’ve seen blowouts, shut outs, no hitters, perfect games, and plenty of walk offs. Tonight was the first time I’ve ever seen a “balk off”.
The worst part of all this? When Buster Posey hit a home run in the top of the 10th to give the Giants the lead, I cringed at Jon Miller’s announcement. “That will give Santiago Casilla the chance to close it out in the bottom of the tenth.” Ask any Giants fan. We don’t have faith in our bullpen. The least reliable part of that bullpen? Santiago Casilla.
Every website I checked somehow says Casilla only has 4 blown saves this season. I feel like I remember more but it may just be how poorly he’s pitched. Even three run leads are scary when Casilla is in the game lately.
Although 4 seems like a low number, last year’s leaders in blown saves only blew 7 all year. Casilla has 4 with nearly half a season to go still. He trails only two pitchers for the “honors” in that category, although of the three, he’s appeared in the most games.
Anyone that has followed the Giants knows the bullpen is a major issue, but tonight that was truly brought to light. The logical step here would be to reinsert Sergio Romo into the closer role for the time being, but the fact that he’s just returning from injury and faltered both times he’s been placed there before may cause Bruce Bochy to be a bit hesitant.
The only other in house option that I see currently is Hunter Strickland. He’s been one of the few reliable relievers this season for San Francisco, and he’s demonstrated he has more of the traditional stuff of closers than Casilla anyway. Now may be the time to give him a shot, instead of in a playoff game against the Washington Nationals.
Josh Osich, Javier Lopez, and George Kontos have all been pretty bad this season, so you don’t want them in the game when the game is on the line. Cory Gearrin has been one of the other standouts with Strickland, but he’s currently on the DL and Derek Law, although solid, seems to fit better as a middle to long relief guy.
I think the Giants should actually use Strickland over Romo at this point. It can’t get much worse than Casilla, and it can be a temporary fix while the Giants look outside the organization to fill that role.
The American League has a couple of teams that probably won’t need closers in October, so maybe the Giants should look there. The A’s have slotted Sean Doolittle out and inserted Ryan Madson as their closer, but there could possibly be a trade worked out between the two Bay Area teams that could see Madson suit up at 24 Willie Mays Plaza for a few minor leaguers the A’s always like to build up before shipping off a few seasons later. Madson is also under contract through the 2018 season so if he continues to perform well, the Giants would have a closer for 2 more years.
Another option is Aroldis Chapman of the New York Yankees. The Yanks announced yesterday that if they don’t improve they’ll look to sell at the deadline. The Giants will actually be in New York at the end of next week. If Bobby Evans is doing his due diligence, he’ll be on hand at Yankee Stadium to see Chapman for himself, and discuss a possible deal with Brian Cashman. This would most likely be a rental, as Chapman’s contract is up at the end of the season and he’ll look to get paid in the offseason.
At this point, it doesn’t really matter what the Giants do, as long as they do something.
Whether it’s Strickland or Romo tomorrow, or Chapman or Madson in August, this much is clear; the answer can no longer be Santiago Casilla.