When Brian Wilson got hurt in April, Bruce Bochy had a big decision to make.
Would he choose Sergio Romo, the star reliever whom righties can't hit? Would he choose Javier Lopez, the left-handed submariner whom lefties can't hit? Or would he choose Santiago Casilla, the hard-throwing righty who can be very erratic.
Surprisingly, Bochy chose Casilla. It seemed to be the right move, as Casilla converted 20 of his first 21 save opportunities.
Then, the wheels came off.
In just eight short appearances, Casilla blew five saves, as his ERA went from 1.32 to 3.34. In four of those eight outings, Casilla allowed two or more runs, and he cost the Giants a win in two of those games. Bochy even said recently that the Giants will rethink the closer situation (h/t Will Brinson of NBCBayArea.com).
However, San Francisco doesn't have that many other options. Romo has balky knees and elbow problems, and he can't close on a day-to-day basis. Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt are usually used to face lefties in the seventh or eighth inning, although both could close if needed.
George Kontos and Brad Penny have done a nice job in San Francisco, and both should see some save opportunities coming soon. However, Penny has allowed some home runs and struggled recently, and Kontos is young and inexperienced.
So, what could the Giants do about it?
Trade for a closer.
Huston Street, Jonathan Broxton, Brett Myers and Francisco Rodriguez are all available, and, according to a report from CSN Bay Area's Andy Baggarly, the Giants are interested in Broxton. The Royals closer is 22-for-26 on save opportunities, has a 2.34 ERA this year and hasn't allowed a home run in his last 20.2 IP.
However, Broxton is inconsistent. He strikes out tons of batters, but he also gives up a lot of hits. Last year, Broxton had a 5.68 ERA, and the year before he had a 4.01 ERA.
Broxton could end up being just like Casilla in the second half, and that's a chance the Giants don't want to take.
According to Baggarly, the Giants scouted the Cubs and Royals farm systems. The Giants don't want to give away top-notch prospects, since they already parted with star pitching prospect Zach Wheeler last year.
However, if the price is right, they could go after Street.
Street is 15-for-15 on save opportunities with a 1.03 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 26.1 innings. Just like Broxton, he has the ability to miss bats. However, Street has also been lights-out this year, and if the Giants traded for him, they would have arguably the best closer and the best setup man in baseball.
They would have to part with some prospects, but one solution is trading a catcher. The Padres have a young catching prospect in Yasmani Grandal, and he is hitting .288 with five home runs (in the majors). However, they could use Giants catcher Tommy Joseph in a trade if the Giants were willing to trade him.
If the Padres won't take Joseph, San Francisco could find some other prospects. They have a lot of outfielders, and they have Gary Brown. Even though San Francisco probably won't trade him, he could be used as bait.
No matter whom the Giants trade, they will have to get a closer. Casilla can't pitch in high-pressure situations, Romo can't close every day, and no one else seems to be ready to take over at closer yet.
It's very hard to win in the playoffs without a closer who can handle the pressure, and Street can handle it.
Street can close when the pressure is on, and he has pitched in the playoffs. Broxton has pitched in the playoffs, too, but he has a 4.40 career ERA in the postseason.
And, even though it seems that the Giants have a good bullpen, closing out games is different. No one on the team (except for Romo) has what it takes to close.
Broxton and Street do, and they could really help the Giants.
Or they could hurt the Giants on other teams.
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