San Francisco Giants reliever Santiago Casilla had a large chunk of his 2013 season taken away by a knee injury, and the Giants suffered because of his absence. But when Casilla was able to pitch, he was his usual dominant self, displaying the same shutdown form that he has showed since joining the Giants in 2010.
Casilla started the season strong, posting a 1.89 ERA while allowing just 10 hits in his first 19 innings. Unfortunately, things got complicated on May 8, when Casilla had to leave a game with pain in his right knee. It was revealed to be a cyst that he had been dealing with since 2012. It was initially thought that if Casilla rested a bit and wore a knee brace, he would be able to pitch through the pain.
But after Casilla struggled through two more appearances, the Giants determined that that was not a viable solution and placed him on the disabled list. He had surgery to remove the cyst in late May.
After an extensive rehab process, Casilla returned on July 14, just before the All-Star break. He proceeded to pitch through 11 straight scoreless outings. Though he snapped the streak on August 10, he was generally successful during August, giving up three earned runs in 13.2 innings.
Casilla seemed to wear down a bit in September, and while he was effective in most of his outings, he gave up a season-high five runs through 12 innings. On the bright side, he had 10 strikeouts, more than he had registered in any other month.
It’s impressive how the 33-year-old Casilla has been able to adjust during his four years in San Francisco. He came in as a hard-throwing power pitcher, and though he’s now lost a couple of ticks off his fastball, he’s been just as effective by making greater use of his off-speed pitches. Other than the fact that he lost time due to his injury, Casilla was just as good as advertised, so he deserves an “A” for his 2013 performance.
Casilla’s scheduled to make $4.5 million in 2014 and $5 million the following year, so it will become more likely in the coming offseasons that the Giants will try to move him to loosen up the budget. Despite this, the most likely scenario still involves Casilla returning to San Francisco in 2014, and that is a huge plus for the Giants’ bullpen.