A 'pen plan for contenders

The Oakland A's need Ryan Cook to pitch like he did in the first half of the season. Michael Zagaris/MLB Photos/Getty Images

Injuries and ineffectiveness have led to a lot of recent bullpen shuffling for the two contending teams from the Bay Area. In the end, it may be the best thing to happen to those teams as they compete for a spot in the postseason.

The San Francisco Giants lost their closer, Brian Wilson, less than a week into the season. Wilson battled elbow soreness for much of 2011 and after just two outings in 2012, an MRI revealed the need for a second Tommy John surgery. Manager Bruce Bochy deployed RHP Santiago Casilla in save situations, and that worked well for the Giants through mid-June. In his first 31 appearances, Casilla pitched 28.1 innings, recorded 25 strikeouts and eight walks, and allowed only six runs. By June 22, he had 20 saves and a 1.59 ERA.

And then it all fell apart. Including an appearance on June 23 in which he allowed a single, a double and a walk and recorded no outs, Casilla has pitched 13 innings, recorded 19 strikeouts and eight walks and allowed 12 runs since. He's been bothered by a blister on his throwing hand, but the blister is not entirely to blame for his ineffectiveness.