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Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Giants have depth to survive Wilson's injury

By David Schoenfield

An update from the Giants' camp now suggests that closer Brian Wilson will not be ready for their season opener due to an oblique strain. He earlier missed three weeks with lower back soreness and has made just five appearances this spring.

Wilson
Wilson
Wilson, of course, has been one of baseball’s best closers the past two seasons, leading the majors in saves in 2010 and tossing 11 2/3 scoreless innings during the postseason.

So would the Giants miss Wilson if his injuries lead to him missing extended time? Not really. As the Giants showed in the playoffs, they have one of the deepest 'pens in the majors, going seven deep with the likes of Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez, Ramon Ramirez, Jeremy Affeldt and Dan Runzler. The Giants had a 2.99 bullpen ERA, second-best in the National League. Romo would likely step in for Wilson and he actually had a lower WHIP and better SO/BB ratio.

One smart thing Bruce Bochy did in 2010 was not saving Wilson for just the ninth inning. Among relievers with at least 20 saves, Wilson entered games with 30 inherited runners, third-most in the majors behind Carlos Marmol (40) and Chris Perez (31), and well ahead of more protected relievers like Huston Street (1), Francisco Cordero (4), Brad Lidge (6) and Heath Bell (9).

That said, that total placed Wilson only 84th among all relievers, proving yet again how the closer role is overrated. Lopez inherited 57 baserunners, Casilla 47 and Romo 46. As much as Wilson, those guys were the stalwarts of the San Francisco bullpen. They spent the season pitching out of tight jams.

I will, however, miss the beard if Wilson doesn't soon return.

Follow David Schoenfield on Twitter at @dschoenfield. Follow the SweetSpot blog at @espn_sweet_spot.