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Will Santiago Casilla close another game for the Giants?

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Seems like a ridiculous question to ask, but I'm not convinced that Casilla is really out of the ninth inning for good.

Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

The headline seems silly, as if we know the answer to the question. We do know the answer. Take it away, horrified housecat.

Of course Casilla isn’t going to close another game for the Giants. He blew a save in Wrigley, and it seemed clear that he wouldn’t get another chance. The he blew a save in Coors, and it seemed really clear that he wouldn’t get another chance. Then he blew a save at Chase Field, setting up an extra innings game that might still be going on, and it seemed very, very, really, very, extra-very clear that was it. That was three blown saves in four chances, with the lone save featuring an amazing hanging curveball to Nolan Arenado.

Then Hunter Strickland stayed in the ninth inning to close Sunday’s game. Because it made sense. Because of course Casilla isn’t going to close another game for the Giants.

And yet ...

I don’t know. I’m having trouble parsing this quote:

"I talked to Santiago," Bochy said. "We just want to give him a little breather and find a spot to get him in a game. I know there’s a lot of tension on him."

"Little breather" could mean from games in general. He’s pitched a lot lately, and that much failure has to be taxing. That’s not supposed to read as sarcasm, either. I just don’t know of a nicer way to put it. It was always a good idea to give him a break.

"Little breather" could mean from the closer’s role, though.

It can’t ... I mean, there’s no way ... it just ...

"I talked to Santiago," Bochy said. "We just want to give him a little breather and find a spot to get him in a game. I know there’s a lot of tension on him."

Now I’m reading it again, and the "find a spot to get him in a game" reads like it’s clearly not going to be the ninth inning. They’re going to try to thread the needle, putting Casilla in a tight enough situation to where he doesn’t feel like he’s been dropped to 18th on the bullpen depth chart, while not putting him into a tight enough situation where he can ruin everything again.

With the eventual goal being to allow him to rebuild his confidence and reclaim his job.

That’s just a guess! An educated, skeptical guess. And if there is a precedent here, it’s Sergio Romo losing his job after two years of meritorious ninth-inning service and never getting it back, and Casilla’s meltdown was much worse than his. The odds would be against Casilla closing again if Bochy’s history with Romo is any guide.

Call it a gut feeling. Part of that is based on how long it took Bochy to remove Casilla in the first place. Another part of it has to do with the lack of great options. Joe Nathan is experienced, but he was also throwing 90 in his last outing, and he hasn’t been a reliable closer since Jeff Francoeur was on the Giants. Hunter Strickland hasn’t been great at getting lefties out this year, which might be a sample-size problem (he’s been fine in his career), but it also might suggest a problem you don’t want your closer to have. Derek Law seems like he’ll need a little extra care once he gets off the disabled list, and there isn’t a manager alive who wants a closer he needs to protect.

That would leave a bullpen by committee, but do you know who hates that idea? Relievers. Bochy. Everyone but statistically minded people who can’t get their noses out of the spreadsheets. If there’s anything like a bullpen by committee, it will exist temporarily and be used only to suss out which candidate will claim the permanent, non-committee job.

I would guess that one of those candidates will be Casilla.

One last time: just a guess. But I haven’t seen a definitive proclamation from Bochy that Casilla isn’t the closer now, end of message. I’ve just seen semi-cryptic references to breathers. And without a definitive proclamation, I’m wondering what the manager who waited until September to remove a closer who’s been driving us batty since April is thinking. Is there still a chance that Casilla will close another game for the Giants?

I can’t figure it out. But that’s why there’s a poll. I want you to figure it out for me.