Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Brian Wilson's Replacement Should be Obvious

Brian Wilson has a strained oblique that is a definite cause for concern. This is a nagging injury that has a tendency to linger if not given the proper time to heal, but at least it seems the Giants will play it safe here.

According to Andrew Baggarly, the Giants are not going to rush him back just to be available for Opening Day.
Wilson’s ability to pitch on opening day is in significant doubt after the Giants’ right-handed closer had his throwing session cut short Wednesday – his first time picking up a baseball since straining his left oblique six days earlier.

“It didn’t feel as good as we hoped, so we backed him off,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Wilson sounded less discouraged, saying he threw at “a high level” and wasn’t surprised to feel some discomfort in the area on his left side. But significantly, the black-bearded closer with the playfully rebellious persona said he wouldn’t fight Bochy if he was told to begin the season on the disabled list.
That means the most obvious question is who should be the guy to fill in for him while he's getting healthy. To me, after looking at the numbers, the choice is obvious: it should be Sergio Romo.

A quick plotting of the tRA (from StatCorner) of each of the possible replacements shows that Romo has been consistently excellent and is arguably on the same level as Wilson when it comes to the Giants best relief pitcher.

The one knock on him is he has some platoon splits and I think that it would be a very good strategy to use when of the Giants LOOGYs to get tough lefties out. Overall, I think that Romo is as good or better against most regular left handed hitters.

Player FIP xFIP
Jeremy Affeldt4.33 4.12
Javier Lopez3.62 3.78
Santiago Casilla4.54 4.57
Sergio Romo 2.72 4.16

Romo has the best career FIP against lefties (partially due to an extremely low home run rate), but he still holds his own in the xFIP category even when compared to the lefty specialists like Affeldt and Lopez, who don't come close to matching his dominance of right handed hitters.

To top everything off, Romo has worked on a sinker that he can use to attack lefties where his awesome slider is less effective.

When you boil things down, this is really not a tough decision at all. Romo is one of the best relief pitchers in baseball and Bruce Bochy should have all the confidence in the world to hand the ninth inning over to him.

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