Alright, by now it’s fairly old news that Giants’ closer Brian Wilson will miss the rest of the 2012 season. For now, the Giants are going with a Closer by Committee, which is a gigantic (no pun intended) question mark. Who is going to get those saves?
Since we’re talking about a team that’s had seasons of 88, 92, and 86 wins over the last three years and they don’t exactly blow anyone out with offense, a lot of saves are going to be had.
As the lone Bay Area Crackerjack and a Giants’ fan, I feel somewhat obligated to break down the options coming out of the pen for you fantasy players out there. Who, if anyone, will emerge from the committee?
The pro to Javier Lopez is that he is impossible for lefties to hit. So, if Bruce Bochy is managing and sees that it’s likely that a few lefties will be up in the ninth inning, I could see Lopez being the guy to go to.
The problem is that right handed hitters are much more dangerous against Lopez, and fellow lefty Jeremy Affeldt isn’t quite as tough against left handed batters, but is far more effective against right handed guys.
Now, Lopez isn’t helpless against right-handed batters, but it’s not his strength. I would still look for him to occupy the seventh and eight inning specialty slots. Unless you’re in a league that values holds, I would leave Lopez on the wire.
On another team, I would call this a pretty obvious pick. But left handed pitchers just don’t tend to be closers that often, and the Giants have a few right handed pitchers at the ready (we’ll get there shortly).
Now, where Jeremy Affeldt could be used is in a spot like this: The Giants are up and a tough lefty is up to start an inning, followed by a few right handed bats. In that spot, I could see Affeldt being used to get the lefty out, and then left in for the remaining hitters.
This would be especially true in spots where the Giants are up by more than one run, meaning a solo homer from one of the righties wouldn’t tie the game up. If right handed bats are looming and the Giants don’t have any mulligans, look for these guys.
Now, if you’re in a league with Clave, he’s probably been nabbed already, possibly in the second round, but I digress. Do me a favor, lean in really close, because this is going to be our little secret. Sergio Romo is better than Brian Wilson.
The greatest sports moment of my life came in the fifth game of the 2010 World Series when Wilson struck out Nelson Cruz, clinching the World Series. So how could I say such a thing?
Well, if you live in the Bay Area, you’re probably familiar with the term, “Giants Baseball: Torture,” which was coined by play-by-play-man Duane Kuiper. That phrase came to being in a game where Wilson put himself in a spot where he had no room for error, and prevailed. If you follow the Giants, you know that Wilson has done this a lot in his career.
Romo doesn’t do this, because he doesn’t walk anyone. He throws strikes, and a lot of them. His career WHIP is under 1.00, with plenty of room to spare.
The drawback here is that he’s not a classic closer. Romo strikes a lot of hitters out, but does so more with offspeed stuff (if you can hit his slider, you’re not human), whereas closers tend to be dominant with the fastball.
So, a guy like Wilson can afford to be a little off with his breaking stuff, because his fastball is so hard to hit. Romo’s breaking pitches have to be sharp, because his fastball is less than overpowering.
The advantage here is that he’s almost never off. He’s also only 29, so there’s no real sign of slowing down. As a Giants’ fan, this is the guy I want to see take the role. As someone giving fantasy advice, he’s second.
Here’s the guy with the classic closer skill-set. He blows hitters away. Now, he walks more hitters than Romo, but has a sub 1.20 WHIP and an ERA of better than 2.00 in more than two years as a Giant. Both of those numbers are phenomenal for relief pitchers, as anything done against them is heightened.
Santiago Casilla also saved six games during 2011, when Wilson was injured a lot. In addition to that, he received the Giants’ first save opportunity in 2012 post Wilson’s injury, and he locked the game down.
I prefer Romo, but I have nothing against Casilla. I do expect the closer by committee thing to persist through the season, but this is the man who will receive more chances than anyone, unless a trade is made.
BOTTOM LINE: This list was done in reverse order of the guys I would sign to your fantasy teams. If you’re in a league with a deep bench or can play a lot of pitchers, I would actually sign both righties (Romo and Casilla). I would expect that duo to lock down about 40 saves.
Going specific, look for 25 from Casilla, and 15 from Romo.