Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wouldn't It Be Nice if Brian Wilson Was Our Closer?

Just had to post that. Brian Wilson earned his first save of the 2007 season, second of his MLB career, yesterday. His pitching this year is probably close to what we are going to see during his career, not that many hits given up, but a lot of walks and strikeouts, and probably a lot of saves too. I think he's going to be good, but he's still got to work on his control so that he doesn't walk that many. But given the paucity of closer candidates in our farm system, I think we should just let him take over and see how it goes.

Hennessey Has Been Good

However, that's not fair to Hennessey, who jumped in and has done a credible job as the closer since Benitez was traded. While Hennessey's K-rate is nothing to write home about, he has had excellent control, leading to a good K/BB ratio while in the closer role (heck, it was good even before). Since taking over, he has 11 saves in 29 games, 30.1 IP, 2.97 ERA, 29 H, 10 R/ER, 9 BB, 19 SO, 2 HR, .259/.325/.402/.727 batting line against. That's pretty good, though ideally he would have more K's and a better K/SO, but at least that's over 2 (2.11 but ideally over 2.4).

The Future is Now: Wilson is the Future

I guess he deserves to finish the year out as closer, but I would rather look to the future at this point. We all knew going into the season that Wilson was going to be THE closer at some point, so shift Hennessey back to his set-up position, where he did great at, and let Wilson close. The future is now, let's see what Wilson can do with the job.


  1. Pitchers that walk a lot of batters do not make a good candidate for a closer. It's is the least desirable attribute that you would want for that position. Wilson is just not an option if he doesn't fix that.

  2. Hence why I say that he needs to work on his control.

    However, if he can keep his hits down and strikeouts up, walks is not as much of a problem was it would be normally. He could be like Cain, able to walk a lot because he gives up less hits.

    But yes, if I had my druthers, few walks would be best. Very good thing to point out, thanks Boof.

  3. I also hope that the Giants will give Wilson some save chances down the stretch. He's been pretty good in his limited time this year in the 8th.

    The last AB of the Marlins game against Cody Ross was just nasty. He threw three straight 97mph heaters right by Ross each time.

  4. Thanks for pointing that out Chris. That's what I don't get with all the naysayers, they complain, complain, complain when players are not perfect: hello, nobody's perfect, you have to live with youthful mistakes and see if they develop or not. That's what rebuilding is all about. (Plus not each and every player on your team will be good or great, you will have your average and below average players too).

    Hence why I want Wilson to get that chance now. He's the reason Sabean felt OK to trade away Accardo. 97MPH heat plus he has pretty good off-speed pitches too, plus if he can regain his plus curve, that would give him three good pitches. If he had that, he would be a killer closer, plus he had the attitude of a laid-back killer. He was suppose to make us forget about Accardo at the start of the season, but, as life often goes, nothing ever goes smoothly with no glitch somewhere.

  5. It's just not the naysayers that are saying this. The Giants organization is also saying this. Remember that they were ready to turn the reins over to Wilson in Spring Training and move Buttmando to the Marlins for Petit. What happened? Wilson does not make the team because he cannot be relied upon to throw strikes......consistently. With all the problems that the Giants have had with theor relief corps, Wilson doesn't get the call until August. That speaks volumes about the confidence that the Giants have in him right now.

  6. The reason the Giants took so long to call up Wilson was because first he was shut down because of arm soreness early in the season, then he had appendicitis late in May, shutting him down until mid-June. So basically he hadn't pitched for nearly two months when he returned to play in June and had to go through spring training again. That's why it took the Giants so long to call him up.

  7. Wilson had another strong inning today, mowing down the heart of the Cubs order.

    1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO 0 HR

    Also, a article popped up today on SFGiants.com about Wilson. I thought this quote was quite interesting.

    "We think we have two guys who can close. For the most part, Wilson will go in the eighth inning and Hennessey in the ninth," manager Bruce Bochy said.

    I think the big thing with Wilson will be his health. I hope he can stay healthy and if he can he's got some electric stuff. Working a guy in the 8th, IMO, is a good way to ease him into the closer role.

    Did anyone catch the Cubs reliever last night Maroul, I think was his name? He had some crazy stuff too. Nice mid 90's FB and a crazy slider that was moving all over the place.

  8. Here's what Nate Stephens of Rotoworld had to say about Wilson today:

    "However, some caution should still be exercised when evaluating the youngster. Despite his nice ERA, Wilson has walked 27 batters in 39 1/3 innings between Triple-A and the majors this season. Command like that will catch up to him eventually, and he's a risky option in NL-only formats as a result. He's still worth stashing away, particularly in keeper leagues, but he figures to be a frustrating player to own until his command issues are worked out."

  9. Personally it just doesn't really matter to me which of Hennessey or Wilson pitches the 9th and which pitches the 8th. We need whoever pitches in both of these innings to be successful. I have no problem with Hennessey being the Giants' Jones and with Wilson being the Giants' Zumaya.

  10. Chris, his name is Marmol (Maroul is a 3B prospect we have in our system). Yeah, he's got nasty stuff, was a starter last year I think.

    Boof, no one said that care should not be taken. I've never said he's the second coming of Robb Nen. All I said is that we should just put him out there and learn to be a closer up here and see what happens. If he works out, great, we are set for 2008, if not, then we know he needs more work in the future.

    But in any case, I'm assuming you don't think Hennessey is the closer for the long term - I don't either. Why waste opportunities for Wilson to close in the majors on Hennessey, who we don't think will be the long-term closer.

    Besides, a roto advice is useless for player development on a real team. If you rely on roto for player development, roto would have told you to avoid stashing Lincecum or Ryan Braun on your roster at the start of the season, because you typically need each spot to cover for and rotate out underperforming players. If you are thinking long-term, you select him.

    Boof, I don't think we disagree on Wilson's problem areas. I just think we should not waste his time up here setting up when he should be closing and seeing if he can be the guy for 2008 or not.

    giantsrainman, as my recent post on playoff success showed, success in the playoffs can be improved by having pitchers who strike out a lot and closers who are very effective. Having a closer who can strike out a lot would fulfill both.

    The study also examined whether walk rate affected success in the playoffs, which pertains to Boof's worry over Wilson's walk rate. It was not significant and Baseball Prospectus's authors noted "avoiding walks doesn't seem to have much relationship with playoff success. A good rule of thumb for pitchers is: Let bad hitters beat themselves, but don't let good hitters beat you. Whie walking a hitter who can't hit the ball out of the infield is tragic, pitching around a guy who can slam the ball 450 feet can be advisable. Pitchers encounter a lot more of the latter kind of hitter than the former in the playoffs."

    We need to see if Wilson can be that effective strikeout closer, and the sooner the better. If he's not it, then we put him in setup and move on to the next guys, maybe Sadler, maybe Valdez finally, maybe someone new (Henry Sosa?).

    Plus I don't view Wilson failing to be the closer to be entirely bad, as long as he's salvageable as a setup or middle relief guy. I eventually want a bullpen full of strikeout guys with incredible control, but if I can't have both, I want a lot of strikeouts and a tolerable amount of walks.

    Lastly, I should add that walk rate IS important, in that if you walk too many during the season, you won't make the playoffs. The key thing I would like to note about BP's study is that the stats are limited to the best teams in the two leagues, thus this study suggests that among successful teams, the walk rate is typically not that bad and thus does not affect overall playoff success much, as the teams are pretty much alike in terms of walk rate.

    Still, if you can craft a team that's good enough to make the playoffs with a closer who does walk a bit more than usual, his walk rate should not really matter that much in the playoffs, as long as he can still strike out as many guys as he was before as well.

  11. Yes, we don't disagree on Wilson. He should be given the chance to see what he can do. Hennessey is not the long term answer. My only point was (and I think yours too), if he continues to walk batters at the clip he is walking them, he will not succeed as a closer candidate. He has to fix that problem.



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