Between the long-term loss of Hunter Pence and the short-term loss of—and potentially first of many absences for—Angel Pagan, the San Francisco Giants would appear to be shopping for outfield help. Word is that they are looking into the trade market, but it’s not for an outfielder.
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Andrew Miller, the dominant left-handed relief pitcher for the New York Yankees is rumored to be available, and the Giants are rumored to be interested, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. A dominant reliever is a great fit for any team at any time, so it’s no stretch to say Miller would be a momentous addition for the Giants.
He holds a 1.09 ERA with a 0.65 WHIP and .151 batting average against. And he has 45 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings—or, put another way, 61 percent of his induced outs have come by way of the K. The fact that Miller isn’t the most feared lefty reliever on his own team is a special circumstance: it’s like Johnny Cueto not being the ace of the staff or Klay Thompson not being the Golden State Warriors’ best shooter.
If the Giants are serious about Miller and end up acquiring him, he almost certainly would take over the closer’s role—a familiar role for him. Miller saved six games in the first month of the season, when closer Aroldis Chapman was serving a suspension. And he was the Yankees’ primary closer in 2015, when he saved 36 games in 38 opportunites.
Bringing in Miller would displace current closer Santiago Casilla, which, on the surface, appears unfair to Casilla, who sports an impressive 2.08 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. But with Casilla, the issue isn’t so much how many runs and base runners he has allowed, but when he has allowed them.
Casilla has blown four saves this season, which is tied for the second most in the Majors. The other reliever with four blown saves, Shawn Tolleson of the Texas Ranges, lost his closer’s role. The league leader, Luke Gregerson of the Houston Astros, just lost his closer’s job after blowing his fifth save the other day. So, Casilla is in dubious company.
Then again, he has not given up more than one run in any of his 23 outings this season, so it’s not like he’s getting shelled. Rather, he is coming into a lot of one-run games, and when that’s the case, one run allowed is more damaging than giving up two runs with a three-run lead. So, Casilla is working against the law of averages.
But the Giants don’t have any great alternatives at the moment—former closer Sergio Romo remains on the disabled list, and Hunter Strickland doesn’t quite have shutdown stuff at this point—and so Casilla is unquestionably their best option.
Blown saves or not, Casilla is a good relief pitcher. And if he were to move into the setup role upon the Giants adding Miller, the back end of the bullpen would shorten games and increase the Giants’ win probability.