Santiago Casilla: When Will the Giants' Pitcher Be Stripped of the Closer Role?

Baily DeeterSenior Writer IIIJuly 6, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 24: Santiago Casilla #46 of the San Francisco Giants reacts after giving up a three-run home run to Derek Norris #36 of the Oakland Athletics (not pictured) during the ninth inning of an interleague game at Coliseum on June 24, 2012 in Oakland, California.  The Oakland Athletics defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-2. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

On Thursday night, the Giants took on the Nationals. They led 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth, when Bruce Bochy sent Santiago Casilla in to close. 

Casilla gave up a double, then made an error on a bunt attempt by Steve Lombardozzi. He gave up an RBI single to Bryce Harper, then intentionally walked Ryan Zimmerman. Michael Morse hit into a fielder's choice, and Adam LaRoche did the same.

However, LaRoche's FC ended the game. The Nationals won 6-5, and Casilla had blown his third save in his last four save attempts.

Now, Giants fans are mad.

In six games, Casilla's ERA has jumped from 1.32 to 2.84. His ERA would be higher, but last night, Casilla's fielding error made one of the two runs he allowed unearned. 

Casilla throws very hard, and he did a great job taking over the closer's role when Brian Wilson went down with an elbow injury. However, he isn't blowing pitches by batters anymore. He is bringing back torture to San Francisco, and this time, it's not the good kind.

Guys are getting on base, and while Casilla has been able to work out of jams before, recently, the damage has been done before Casilla works his way out of the jam. Opposing teams are figuring him out, and that's not good for the Giants.

Just like Wilson, Casilla throws a lot of balls. Just like Wilson, Casilla works the corners. Just like Wilson, Casilla lets runners on base. But now, unlike Wilson, Casilla doesn't get out of the jams.

Giant fans are becoming very frustrated with Casilla's struggles.

He doesn't put the ball where Buster Posey or Hector Sanchez puts the glove, and hitters are starting to capitalize on his mistakes. As a result, the Giants are losing games, and, like I've said, Giants fans are mad about Casilla's struggles.

But what makes them most mad is that there is another Giant in the bullpen who is much more capable of taking over the closer's role.

Sergio Romo has flat-out dominated in the last year and a half. This year, the star reliever is 2-1 with an ERA of 0.72. Romo's slider, which breaks right before an unfortunate bat swings, may be the most dangerous pitch in baseball, and his change-up isn't too bad either.

Oh, and Romo is 5-for-5 on save opportunities.

Romo doesn't get into many jams, as you can see from his phenomenal 0.72 WHIP.

He can come on in a one-out save situation, especially against righties. Since Romo's slider curves to the left, righties have zero luck against it. The slider looks like a fastball, but it breaks out of the strike zone as a clueless batter swings and misses.

There's no question that Romo's the best reliever in the Giants' bullpen. In fact, I wrote an article about why he's the most reliable reliever in baseball. So why is Casilla, who's ERA is about four times higher than Romo's, still closing?

That is the question Bruce Bochy must answer soon. And it's not about if Casilla will be stripped of the closers role. It's about when Bruce Bochy will finally realize that Romo is the better pitcher and that Romo deserves to close for the Giants.