For seven seasons, the San Francisco Giants could count on Santiago Casilla to produce out of the bullpen. The right hander was as versatile as any pitcher the Giants had on any of their World Series Championship teams.
The San Francisco Giants relied heavily on their bullpen in 2010, 2012 and 2014 as they won three World Series and Casilla was as reliable as anyone. Not only was he able to get both right handed and left handed hitters out, he also could pitch multiple innings. Both attributes are rare for a relief pitcher in today’s game, but Casilla had the skillset. So much so that when Brian Wilson was not re-signed and Sergio Romo struggled in the ninth, Bruce Bochy continually asked Casilla to close games for the Giants.
Much like when Bochy asked Bengie Molina to be the team’s cleanup hitter, asking Santiago Casilla to close games was never an ideal fit. Casilla’s skillset was in getting guys out on both sides of the plate and being able to be used for multiple innings if necessary. To ask him to close meant you were taking him away from what he did best. Limiting him to just three outs and just one particular inning put added pressure on every pitch. It was something that Casilla didn’t have before.
Many have suggested that the closer role is overrated and that three outs in any inning matter the same. Others mention that you should pitch your best pitchers in the most important situations, regardless of inning. We saw that with Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen in the playoffs this season. We saw that with Bochy himself with Jeremy Affeldt and Madison Bumgarner in the playoffs too.
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However, Casilla and so many others, put extra, unnecessary pressure on themselves once they are given the ninth inning because that is how the game has been structured. It is considered an honor to be given that specific job and a lot of pride comes along with it. As we saw with both Casilla and Romo, they felt their pride was attacked when they were taken out of the role.
All that said, there were still many memorable moments from Casilla during his time in orange and black and his production will be missed by fans, whether they realize it or not.
Like all members of the Core Four, Casilla was even better in the post-season. Casilla shut the door on the Detroit Tigers in Game 2 of the 2012 World Series to set up Sergio Romo for the 9th inning. Casilla did his job and did his job well so many times for the Giants. Quiet innings are often taken for granted, but that is what Casilla did many more times than fans would like to remember.
So here are the top five moments of Santiago Casilla’s career as a Giant