Saves: Hunter Strickland
This is no slight on Santiago Casilla, he will still be of great value to the team. But Casilla relies on movement in order to get outs, and with video and fatigue it won’t be enough to last the entire season as the closer. Video is important because hitters can watch for tendencies more than ever. A effective pitcher is able to change his tendencies in order to confuse the hitter once in a while. Casilla doesn’t have the reach-back velocity to blow a hitter away once he gets behind in the count, he tends to nibble and allow his stuff to run away from the plate and make batters chase.
Even though Casilla will begin the season as the closer, it is likely that Strickland will be the one called on to finish games in September and beyond. His blazing fastball and great accuracy is much more effective late in ballgames. Even if he gives up the occasional home run ball (a normal occurrence for a hard-throwing reliever who is around the strike zone), Strickland can make mistakes up without the hitter being able to catch up to it with regularity. My prediction: 32 saves by Strickland while Casilla will finish with 19. It won’t be an angry transition of closers either because Casilla is a professional and has always carried himself as a team-first guy.