Searching for Saves: San Francisco Giants: Will It Be Romo or Casilla?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Just when we thought Sergio Romo was ready to run with the Giants’ closing job and establish himself as one of the elite, he loses the job to Santiago Casilla in 2014 and can safely considered a “bust” for the year. With Romo resigned there’s no clear cut answer as to who will open the year as closer, but there is a definitive better option. Who is it? Let’s take a look:

 

Santiago Casilla
He has 19+ saves in two of the past three seasons, so it makes sense that his name is in the discussion. That said, is he really a good option…

Casilla gets the job done with groundballs and… Really, he just gets it done with groundballs (56.1% in 2014). While you can point to a 2.31 BB/9 last season, that’s the exception not the rule. He owns a career 3.96 BB/9 and has posted a mark north of 4.00 in four of the past six seasons.

He also isn’t a strikeout pitcher, with a 6.94 K/9 last season and a career mark of 7.74. Poor control and a lack of strikeouts make a relief pitcher hard to get excited about, doesn’t it? While he’s gotten the job done in recent seasons, would it really be a surprise to see him implode?

 

Sergio Romo
Even in losing his job, Romo still profiles as the better closing option. He has elite control, with a 1.86 BB/9 last season (1.84 for his career). He also brings big time strikeout stuff, with a 9.16 K/9 last season and room for even more (14.1% SwStr%, 40.6% O-Swing%).

What hurt Romo last season was the long ball, as he posted a 1.40 HR/9. While he is a flyball pitcher, it hasn’t been an issue throughout his career (0.79) and it’s easy to imagine it coming back down to normal.

He really settled in after the All-Star Break, posting a 1.80 ERA and 0.85 WHIP.  In fact, even while he was “struggling” in the first half his WHIP was 1.00. It just shows how good he is.

 

Conclusion
Obviously there’s a little bit of risk involved, with Romo getting the hook last season, but his skill set is significantly better than Casilla’s. The two year, $15 million contract the Giants’ gave him this offseason also indicates a chance to close once again.

Let others overlook him, as Romo could easily be a Top 5-7 option once returned to the role.  Considering there’s a good chance that comes on Opening Day 2015, he’s a closer to be buying in all formats.

Source – Fangraphs

Make sure to check out all of our early 2015 rankings:

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