April 19th, 2012
Update: Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News is reporting that Wilson will have Tommy John surgery on today on his right elbow. The surgery will be performed by Dr. James Andrews. Wilson is now officially done for the year.
Original Post, 4/16/12: When my pick came up in the eight round of my fantasy baseball draft, it was time for me to take a closer (it’s a Keeper League, so taking a closer in the eighth round isn’t outlandish). I had to make a decision between Ryan Madson or Brian Wilson. I took Madson because I was worried about Wilson’s health.
Ironically, it was Madson who went down first with a bum elbow and was lost for the season. At that point, I was kind of kicking myself for not going with Wilson, but at the end of the day, that didn’t matter. As it turns out, Wilson is down for the count also.
According to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, Brian Wilson has structural damage in his elbow and faces possible surgery. The San Francisco Giants are lining up doctor appointments for Wilson this week to get second and third opinions, including one with Dr. James Andrews.
If Wilson is out of the year, which appears likely at this point, the question is how do they replace him at the end of games?
This early in the season, no team is going to give up a back of the bullpen guy. There isn’t a GM in baseball, who will give up on the season that quickly. Maybe down the line if the Giants are in the playoff picture they will go out and get someone like Brett Myers or Jim Johnson. But for now, the Giants will be forced to use their in-house options and luckily for them, they have a couple of good ones.
The most likely candidate to close games for the Giants moving forward is Santiago Casilla. Casilla believe it or not had a very comparable year to Wilson in 2011.
Wilson has the personality, is marketable, and had the save stat behind him, but numbers don’t lie. The Giants won’t be losing much by inserting Casilla into the closers role.
The Giants also have Sergio Romo they can go to as well. Romo actually had a better year than both Wilson and Casilla in 2011. Romo had a 13.1 K/9 rate and a 2.2 WAR in 48 innings. Romo doesn’t throw has hard as Casilla (88 mph fastball on average), but he has a wicked slider that is death to right-handed batters.
Injuries like the one to Wilson hurt because it turns the bullpen upside down. Guys who are now pitching the sixth or seventh are now pitching the eighth and guys who were pitching the eighth are now pitching the ninth. But whatever Bruce Boche decides to do in the ninth to replace Wilson, whether that be Casillo or Romo, he won’t be losing much.
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