Former Giants closer Santiago Casilla watched last night as five separate San Francisco relievers tried and failed to stop the Cubs in the 9th. Instead, a three-run lead turned into a one-run deficit. As Carl Steward of the Mercury News reports, the 36-year-old righty was moved to tears by the loss — and the fact that he wasn’t able to help in the attempt to prevent it.
Though he lost his closer’s role after logging 31 saves this season, Casilla was stung by the fact he wasn’t considered at any point in the decisive fourth game of the NLDS, Steward says. As Casilla heads to the open market this winter, it seems likelier than ever that his seven-year run with the Giants will come to an end. “I’m a free agent, so I don’t know,” Casilla said of his future. “I’m just going to wait and see what happens.”
Casilla did make it onto the NLDS roster after a tough end to the year, but made just one appearance in the series. In his 7 2/3 frames from the start of September, he allowed five earned runs with just five strikeouts against three walks. Though he only permitted six hits, two were homers. Of course, he had been solid — albeit hardly dominant — for much of the season, ending with a 3.57 ERA with 10.1 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 over 58 total innings.
Despite his diminished role, Casilla said that he felt confident he could have gotten the job done when the Giants most needed a shut-down inning. “I’m a pitcher. I’m part of the bullpen,” he said. “I know I have had some bad moments in September and during the season, but I have good numbers in the playoffs and I know I can pitch in that situation. I know I can pitch in the big leagues.”
Indeed, Casilla does possess a rather distinguished postseason track record. In 19 2/3 frames, all with the Giants, he allowed just two earned runs on 15 hits while striking out twenty and permitting only five free passes.
It seems, though, that Casilla had already been buried on the depth chart. A parade of his pen mates — Derek Law, Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo, Will Smith, and Hunter Strickland — was called upon while Casilla sat in the dugout. Regardless of one’s views on the decisionmaking process of oft-lauded skipper Bruce Bochy — certainly, the post-loss questioning is inevitable given the result — the Giants seem to be headed in a different direction with the back of their pen.
Whether or not San Francisco will pursue Casilla in the offseason, and whether he’d be amenable to a return at this point, remain to be seen. But he figures to receive a good bit of interest on the market. Casilla’s late-inning track record certainly doesn’t hurt his case, even if he stumbled at times this year, but teams will mostly focus on the fact that he’s thrown at least fifty innings annually since joining the Giants in 2010, with a cumulative 2.42 ERA. In fact, 2016 was the first time he provided the organization with an earned run average of greater than three per nine.