Santiago Casilla: The San Francisco Giants’ anti-closer
By Timmy Kennedy
Unlike the vast majority of San Francisco Giants’ closers, in fact all closers, period — Santiago Casilla breaks the mould. He defies the stereotypes. He isn’t the ‘normal’ ninth inning man. While he is equally as effective as the others, he lacks something else they all have; in reality, something that is entirely irrelevant: An extraverted personality.
As John Shea, of the Chronicle, wrote: When Sergio Romo fanned Miguel Cabrera for the final out of the World Series in 2012, he finished the October classic with his classic celebration. When Brian Wilson struck out Nelson Cruz to win the World Series for the Giants in 2010, he crossed his arms, and pointed his index finger to the sky: That was their thing. Their routine, something the now-closer of San Francisco doesn’t have.
He doesn’t even consider himself a closer, or the man who finishes games with a save; nope. He simply sees himself as the guy who has the job of retiring the side in the ninth, just like any other inning. So much so, sometimes he even forgets to come out and shake Buster Posey‘s hand, who had this to say about Casilla: “Half the time after games, I have to yell at Casilla to come shake my hand,” Buster Posey said before Wednesday’s workout at China Basin, “because he’s running off to congratulate the fielder for making the play.”
"“He’s a special guy,” reliever Javier Lopez said. “He’s got a different style, no doubt about it. There’s nothing he really does that’s super crazy. I’ve seen a couple of fist pumps out of him after a big out, but honestly, that’s about it. He keeps to himself and remains poised, and I feel that’s a great attribute to have, especially when asked to pitch in pretty key spots.”At midseason, Casilla took over the closer’s role from Romo, who was struggling, and he finished the season with a 1.70 ERA (0.79 on the road) in 54 appearances, earning 19 saves in 23 opportunities. He pitched three of four games in the Division Series and earned two saves, including Tuesday’s clincher, his 13th straight scoreless postseason outing.He retired three of four batters, feeling perfectly comfortable with issuing a two-out walk to Bryce Harper, who homered three times in the series. “Go over and hang out at first,” quipped Casilla, who retired Wilson Ramos for the final out."
You know what? Casilla may be the opposite to the common stereotype associated with the closer, but it simply doesn’t matter. All that matters, as Santiago says himself, is that he goes out and retires the side in the ninth. With the Giants only being four wins away from the World Series, he is four wins away from being the third closer to feature for the Giants in the Fall Classic in only five years — and there’s nobody the fans would rather see.