San Francisco Giants’ Closer Brian Wilson Faces Possible Elbow Surgery; Who Will Replace Him? Fan Question

Brian Wilson was dealing with elbow issues late in 2011 and missed some significant time because of it. He worked hard to rehab his elbow, looked strong in spring training, and now faces a setback. In his only two appearances this season, on April 11 and 12 against the Colorado Rockies, he threw a combined 56 pitches, but there was one pitch during his save on April 12, that appeared to tweak his elbow. After the pitch Wilson appeared to have pushed his arm too far and thanks to an MRI, the Giants and Wilson discovered he has structural damage to his elbow.

Wilson is no stranger to Tommy John surgery, as he had it performed in 2003 when he was at LSU. The Giants want to get several opinions on the elbow, including that of Dr. James Andrews—a leading orthopedic surgeon who specializes in ligament repair; most specifically, Tommy John surgery. With it being all but certain that Brian Wilson is facing elbow surgery—season-ending surgery at that—who is likely to fill the role of closer in his absence? Let's take a look.

Santiago Casilla

In 2011, Casilla was an absolute monster for the Giants. He had a 1.74 ERA in 49 games, converting six of seven save opportunities while holding opponents to a .183 batting average. So far in 2012 he has a 0.00 ERA in three games and opponents are batting .111 off of him. I like Casilla's ability to confuse opposing hitters with his curveball and changeup while sticking predominantly to a hard slider and a mid to high-90s two-seam fastball. Casilla would probably be my first pick to fill in for Wilson in his possible absence.

Sergio Romo

In 2011, Romo also had a great year for the Giants. He posted a 1.50 ERA in 62 games, with 70 strikeouts to just one walk and held opponents to a .173 batting average. Romo has pitched in just two games this year, but has held opponents to a .143 BA and has a 0.00 ERA just like Casilla. Romo's slider is his bread and butter and his ability to get batter chasing is uncanny. However, I like him too much in the role of setup man to move him to closer. Knowing Bruce Bochy, however, he'll probably do the thing we least likely expect.

Bullpen by committee

Which bring me to this situation. As strong as our bullpen is and as good as the candidates are to fill in for Wilson, I can't help but get the feeling that Bochy will go with a bullpen by committee. I'm not a big fan of it because it causes too much thinking and a matchup-based decision from the manager—which, anyone who watches Giants baseball knows Bochy loves his matchups. With a set closer, that pitcher can focus on fulfilling that role and be mentally prepared.

As for Wilson's replacement, you could even go so far as nominating Heath Hembree, the Giants' closer of the future and call him up from Triple-A Fresno. However, with Bochy's apparent disdain for playing young players over veterans—a la the Brandon Belt situation—it appears as if that won't happen. In all likelihood, I'd imagine Santiago Casilla will become the Giants' closer.

Who would you like to see step in for the role of closer with the Giants?

David is co-founder of wrapupp sports blog where fresh content is posted daily and present sports blogs and sports opinions - all with a West Coast bias. Growing up in the Bay Area, David is a huge supporter of all the local sports teams; the Giants, Athletics, Warriors, Sharks, 49ers, and Raiders. His one fault, admittedly, as many of his friends and family would say, is his love for the Los Angeles Lakers. Growing up, Magic Johnson was his favorite basketball player and he fell in love with the team. He chalks it up to, "Not knowing any better". Now his love for sports has turned just as academic as it is intuitive and he follows most all sports all over the nation.

You can follow David on Twitter: @officialwrapupp

Sources:

MLB.com. Brian Wilson May Need Tommy John Surgery. MLB 2012.

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Updated Sunday, Apr 15, 2012