Santiago Casilla, not Sergio Romo, is the Giants’ new closer

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Sergio Romo has been one of the best, most dominant relievers in baseball while setting up Brian Wilson for the past four seasons, but with Wilson headed for elbow surgery it was Santiago Casilla, not Romo, who got the call in the ninth inning last night.

Casilla did the job, saving a 4-2 win over the Phillies, and afterward manager Bruce Bochy made it clear that Casilla would be “first in line” for saves. He also left open the possibility of using multiple relievers, including Romo, in the ninth inning, but Bochy also turned to Casilla for save chances when Wilson was sidelined last year.

Romo is the best reliever in the Giants’ bullpen–sporting a 2.29 ERA and 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings for his career–but Casilla is also plenty good and it’s possible that the Giants can get more value out of keeping Romo in a setup role where he can put out fires and shut down teams in a variety of situations instead of being limited to ninth innings with leads of 1-3 runs.

Alex Bregman shows how easy it is to manufacture “controversy” in baseball

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In most sports it takes legitimate trash talk to create off-day “controversy.” In baseball, it takes the weakest sauce. We saw how weak that sauce was yesterday.

Alex Bregman and the Houston Astros are going to face off against Nate Eovaldi and the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the ALCS tonight. It’s worth noting that earlier this season, they hit back-to-back-to-back home runs off of Eovaldi when he was pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Yesterday, in an act which was likely somewhat inspired by self-motivation, somewhat inspired by getting in Eovaldi’s head and somewhat inspired by a simple interest in having fun, Bregman took the video of those back-to-back-to-back homers off of Eovaldi and posted it to his Instagram:

Of course, since this is baseball, where even farting off-key can be construed as “showing up” the opposition or somehow disrespecting the game, it became a thing. Or at least people tried to make it become a thing.

Indeed, it took them a bit to find someone who would help them make it a thing, because Eovaldi himself didn’t care about it a bit, nor did Astros manager A.J. Hinch or Red Sox manager Alex Cora. Eventually, however, they hit pay dirt. Here’s Sox infielder Steve Pearce talking to WEEI.com:

“Wow. I don’t know why he would do that. We do our talking on the field. If he wants to run his mouth now we’ll see who is talking at the end of the series.”

My guess is that almost no one on the planet, Steve Pearce included, would care about this in a vacuum or if they allowed themselves to think through it for more than a second. Baseball culture, though — and let’s be clear about it, baseball media culture — has conditioned most of its players and participants to think that stuff like this is supposed to be controversial, so it actually takes effort not to start dancing to this kind of tune on auto-pilot.

Kudos to Hinch, Cora and Eolvaldi for exerting that effort and not dancing to it. To the press that automatically sought out comment on this and Pearce who dutifully gave it: hey, I get it. It’s hard to resist one’s conditioning. Maybe you’ll be able to resist it next time.