Oakland Athletics

For the good of the Oakland Athletics bullpen, Santiago Casilla needs to go

Jairo Garcia, as he was first known when he came up through the A’s farm system, never pitched very well for the Oakland Athletics. 

Even after returning to the Oakland Athletics bullpen and spending parts of six seasons with the team under his real name, Santiago Casilla, he posted a 5.11 ERA, an average 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings and an extremely terrible 4.5 walks per nine innings. 

Casilla had a bit more success after signing with the San Francisco Giants. Over seven season in the other side of the Bay Area he posted a 2.42 ERA. His strikeouts per nine innings went from average to above average moving from 7.7 to 8.3. His walks per nine innings improved to 3.5, which is still considered poor at least according to Fangraphs.

Oakland Athletics
Buster Posey, Bruce Bochy, Santiago Casilla, Brandon Belt. AP News.

After having a rough 2016 season Casilla lost his job as the Giants’ closer in September, despite having saved 123 games and posting an ERA below 2.00 in three of his seasons there.

In Game 4 of the 2016 National League Division Series Giants’ skipper Bruce Bochy went through his entire bullpen without even having Casilla warm-up. 

This should have been seen as a warning sign by teams as Casilla was granted free agency after the 2016 season.

Apparently the Oakland Athletics didn’t see his poor end to 2016 as a problem and signed him to a two-year $11 million contract. 

When Casilla returned to spend his seventh season on the East side of the San Francisco Bay things didn’t quite go as planned. At the time Casilla was confident that he could, “help the Athletics in anything they ask for.”

Unfortunately, Casilla struggled in Oakland yet again. Granted with a young core of starting pitchers who couldn’t go deep into games the bullpen was taxed before the All-Star break, Casilla was always the pitcher that would cause fans to groan seeing him coming into a game. 

This was usually because of his lack of control. He gave up walks on a very regular basis. His walks per nine innings was back to “poor” at 3.4.

The A’s bullpen ranked 23rd in the majors in 2017. Now they’ve brought in right hander Yusmeiro Petit, a veteran known for being versatile and able to pitch multiple innings on a regular basis, on a two-year deal with a team option for 2020.  

The team also traded Ryon Healy to the Seattle Mariners and as part of the trade the A’s got 26-year-old right hander Emilio Pagan. Pagan will be starting his sophomore season after a successful rookie year in Seattle in which he posted a 3.22 ERA while averaging 10 K’s per nine innings and just 1.4 walks per nine over 50.1 total innings. 

Oakland Athletics
Liam Hendriks. USATSI.

Both Petit and Pagan will help the A’s bullpen while the young starting rotation adapts to pitching in the big leagues.

Ryan Dull and Liam Hendriks have also proven they can do the same. Joining them will likely be Chris Hatcher and likely closer Blake Treinen. The lone lefty in the pen will be Daniel Coulombe.

That means the Oakland Athletics bullpen currently has seven right-handers and one lefty. If the A’s are going to have to have a three-man bench and carry eight relievers in the bullpen they’re going to need another left-hander, which means that Casilla is expendable – well sort of.

The A’s could part ways with Liam Hendriks who backslid a little last season in comparison with his first season in Oakland after being traded by the Toronto Blue Jays for pitcher Jesse Chavez. Still he had a better season than Casilla in 2017. 

Many will say that parting ways with Casilla will cost the team the $6 million that he is owed for the 2018 season, but they’ve been in worse positions before.

In December 2013 the A’s traded Jemile Weeks and David Freitas to the Baltimore Orioles for closer Jim Johnson who was coming off of back-to-back 50-plus save seasons. Johnson didn’t pitch well for the A’s, who had taken on $10 million of his contract. He lost his closing job in may to Sean Doolittle and was released by the team on August 1, 2014. 

Saying goodbye to Casilla and finding another left handed pitcher to help out Coulombe is the best choice if the Athletics intend to put their best possible team on the field. Yes, it may cost them some money but winning always does seem to cost money, doesn’t it?

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