Never has a BREAKING tag felt so horrible.
Wilson’s health has been a subject for concern since late last season when the closer missed nearly the entire month of August with ‘elbow discomfort’. When Wilson did return to pitch a few innings at the end of 2011, he didn’t look right; his velocity was way down and he was throwing the occasional 84 mph curveball, something I had never, ever seen. Wilson last pitched in Thursday’s 4-2 win at Colorado, an inning that resulted in the trainer visiting Wilson on the mound; Wilson claimed that he ‘tweaked’ his ankle, and in the post-game recap, Alex Pavlovic touched on the injury on his blog:
“It was nothing,” Wilson said. “Just one of those things they have to come check on. It’s basically a non-factor.”
In hindsight, the Giants letting Wilson throw nine additional pitches after Dave Groeschner visited him seems like a reckless, borderline crazy, thing to do. I’m assuming the Giants know more about Wilson’s health than I do, and to let him pitch hurt in an April game, as even Mike Krukow stated on the TV side of things, isn’t smart.
Oh, how quickly a ‘tweaked’ ankle turns into arm ‘structural issues‘.
(If this was an art exhibit, I’d title it: 89 mph fastball, BLACK AWPS IV)
That’s Brian Wilson throwing an 89 mph fastball to Tyler Colvin the aforementioned Thursday game at Coors Field. Velocity isn’t everything but when your closer, the one that could throw 95 mph pretty often, is having a hard time breaking 90 mph, something isn’t right. And you could drop Krukow terms — cut, fade, movement, sink — on me all day long if you wanted to, but something isn’t right. The loss in velocity with his spike in walk-rate last year are pretty clear indicators that something was up. And, not to sound cynical, but when most pitchers forgo velocity and start working on new pitches — such as Wilson did with the two-seam fastball last year — I get a little suspicious. Generally, for all pitchers, throwing hard is a good thing.
I think we have to assume that the Giants had some serious, if not downplayed, doubts about Wilson’s health. The team often had him throwing on backfields and in minor league games during Spring Training. That would ensure that Wilson could try and work on pitching without doing it in front of the media. Losing Wilson for the Giants is a tough blow, but one that might not seem so drastic at first glance. The team has some other options that it could use at closer, but the Giants have shown a reluctance to bump up their second best — if not the current best — reliever, Sergio Romo, into the closer’s role. I think we’re more likely to see guys like Santiago Casilla and Jeremy Affeldt split time at the role. If the team is serious about configuring it’s bullpen in the best possible manner, then as of today, Bochy needs to shift Romo into the closing role. It won’t happen, but it should.
Heath Hembree could also be a candidate, but I think it’s nigh impossible that Bochy will turn 9th inning duties over to a unproven rookie. It just won’t happen. Also, as my more sarcastic friends on Twitter are saying, this gives the team a golden opportunity to trade Brandon Belt for someone like Matt Capps. My Twitter friends are sarcastic jerks, but damned if they aren’t right on this one.