SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 24: Brian Wilson #38 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates after defeating the Milwaukee Brewers at AT&T Park on July 24, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
The San Francisco Giants will miss Brian Wilson, but they can make do with Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez finishing things up in the bullpen.
Baseball science dictates the following must occur for the Giants to be successful.
- The Giants must no longer own anything less than a three-run lead in the ninth inning. They must blow their opponents out. Highly unlikely.
- The Giants must lose the remainder of their games. Highly counter-intuitive.
- The Giants must now enter the ninth inning in a tied game and play extra innings for the rest of eternity. Highly probable.
Clearly, if they can make these scenarios happen, the Giants will be World Series champions. This is so possible.
Now that all of you are done being bummed out, baseball hasn't stopped for the Giants. Not yet.
Wilson, sad to say it, has been in decline the past few years. His speed is down, the strikeouts are going down, the walks are going up, and the contract is way up. Although he's getting paid closer money, he wasn't exactly vice-gripping that position. There's no clear case that he's the best relief pitcher in the pen.
The Giants have actually lived with the luxury of excellent relief pitching the past few years, and this bullpen is thankfully quite deep. Santiago Casilla will walk his fair share of batters, but he's probably the likely candidate to close, and pitched a solid inning and two-thirds in his first appearance since the Wilson injury. Sergio Romo can be a strikeout machine, but he does have elbow issues, so you probably don't want to subject him to the workload of the relief position. Then you have Javier Lopez and Danny Otero as the second line. Four solid relief pitchers right there, all of whom shouldn't have to stretch their innings given how good the starters are in front of them.
The Giants team that lost Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez last season was doomed to fail. The hitting was so bare bones that San Francisco wasted pitching gem after pitching gem because they couldn't put runs on the board. This year, though, it's the side of the field where the Giants are stacked with not only quality relief pitching, but also gifted with excellent starting pitchers. As long as the demons that are possessing Tim Lincecum are exorcised, they should be okay. It might mean some of the Giants have to pitch some complete games, but no rotation in the league is more ready to pitch complete games, particularly if Vogelsong can come back and pitch as effectively as last year.
And this is a Giants team that doesn't hate hitting. The sample size is fairly small, but the Giants are ranked in the upper tier in slugging percentage and OPS and the top half in OBP. The Giants have gotten more pep off the bat thanks to the offseason acquisition of Melky Cabrera, and Aubrey Huff and Pablo Sandoval have been happy to assist. Add in Nate Schierholtz and Posey and the Giants have a lot of hitting to hold down the fort.
In short, the Giants aren't a team that will probably be crippled by this injury. They might miss the moments, but no Wilson doesn't mean the Giants are going away. They're back at .500 and ready to challenge everyone, and if you had to choose anyone you could live without on this team to try and return to the playoffs, the beard might have to be the one.