Changing closers is one of the roughest things a manager must do, because it shakes up the order of the bullpen, but it had to be done.
“Sometimes you’ve got to change,” Bochy said. “If you keep doing the same thing over and over, sometimes it’s good for a player to back off a little bit, let him breathe and get back on track. He’s done such a great job. As group, we’ve hit a bump in the road. As individuals, a lot of us have and hiccups.
“It’s not a fun time for a manager to tell the closer he’s going to change things a little bit. It’s not what he wanted to hear. He’s a team guy. He’ll help out where we need him. It’s time to lighten his load.”
With Romo being demoted to the bullpen, the plan is to use Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla as the closers, depending on what batters are coming up. If it’s lefties, you’ll be seeing Affeldt. If it’s righties, you’ll be seeing Casilla. Both men pitched in the 9th inning in yesterday’s loss to the Cincinnati Reds and let’s just say Casilla looked a lot better than Affeldt. Affleldt gave up two of his own runs and allowed one of Hudson’s runners to score. Casilla came in to get the final two outs and was perfect doing so.
Casilla has been in this role before though, during the first half of the 2012 season before the switch was made to make Romo the full-time closer. Casilla’s worst season with the Giants also came in 2012 (mostly due to a blister on his hand), and his ERA was 2.84. He’s pitching with a 1.15 ERA this season, the lowest of the bullpen. Personally, I think Casilla is a natural fit to help as the closer until Romo is ready to go again, as I’d rather see Affeldt in more of a long reliever role or leftie specialist.
As for Romo, he’s happy to contribute however he best fits into the bullpen, be it the 9th inning or not.
Romo: ” I don’t need to pitch the ninth inning to contribute. I’m OK with the decision. I’m going to get my chance. …. #sfgiants
— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) June 29, 2014