Needing just three outs to secure their second consecutive series win—both against potential playoff teams, the San Francisco Giants appeared to be fully back to their winning ways. But then, leading 7-3, Manager Bruce Bochy turned to his bullpen. Three relievers combined to allow five runs in the game’s final two innings.
The worst of it came with closer Santiago Casilla on the mound. He entered the ninth inning with a 7-5 lead and ended it with an 8-7 deficit. Throwing salt on the wound of allowing a three-run homer to Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop, catcher Matt Wieters tripled in the next at-bat. Casilla, as has been all too common, didn’t have shutdown stuff on Sunday.
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While Santiago has successfully converted 27 saves, his six blown saves are tied for most in the Majors. One of the other three with six blown saves lost his closer’s role earlier this season, and the other two are on teams out of the playoff race. His 3.28 ERA is decent when viewed in the broad context of all relief pitchers, but it’s third worst among playoff contenders.
Of the two with a higher ERA, one is Boston’s Craig Kimbrel, who still strikes fear in opposing hitters in the offense-heavy American League East, and the other is Houston’s newly anointed closer Ken Giles, who actually has a superior ERA after factoring out his awful April.
So, what should the Giants do about Casilla and the closer’s role? What can they do? Here’s a look at their potential options…