Look at Camilo Doval, turning Gabe Kapler into a 20th-century manager.
And I mean that as a compliment. To both parties.
Kapler blew into the Bay Area before the 2020 season and pretty much intimated that the idea of a set closer to finish out ballgames was a relic of the non-analytic past; that if you were the kind of person who liked to know who your closer was, you were also the kind of person who liked TVs with antennas and leaded gasoline.
Setting your closer instead of going with the matchups? The feeling fans got was that Kapler would rather quit baseball and open a hemp farm than do something dinosaurs like Earl Weaver and Tony La Russa would do.
And now look at him. When a Kapler-managed Giants team gets to the close of the 8th inning with the lead in the summer of 2023, Doval in to close is as sure a lock as a Kapler Instagram post with a modern hip-hop track underneath.
All it took was the rocket ship attached to Camilo Doval’s shoulder — credit John Brebbia with that description — to convince him.
Doval has an MLB-leading 30 saves through 95 games, and is on pace for a 51-save season, which would set an all time Giants franchise record.
The record of 48 saves in a season is currently held by Rod Beck (RIP, Shooter) and Brian Wilson, who just made an ‘X’ with his forearms upon reading the Jock Blog and seeing his name.
If Doval stays healthy — knock wood — he will join and pass those names, and give Kapler the horsehide Christmas gift the skipper never knew he needed.
(By the way, here is the place where we note Robb Nen is the Giants’ all time leader in career saves, with 206. Beck had 199. Wilson 171. And for those of us of a certain vintage, Gary Lavelle is fourth with 127; Greg Minton fifth with 125. Lavelle and Minton. Heck yeah.)
Doval appears to have everything one needs to be Kapler’s go-to guy for the foreseeable future. He just turned 26. His fastball-slider combination should not wear down his arm too much, although I say that knowing that throwing a baseball 102 mph over and over is not how Mother Nature designed the shoulder or elbow for long-term use.
And then there’s the heartbeat.
The … slow … heart … beat … of … Tranquilo … Camilo … Doval.
Javy Lopez came on our show today and said it was the “never let ‘em see you sweat” factor, that Doval is so calm, he almost lets the hitters think Doval knows something the hitter does not know. Here’s one thing the hitter knows: a baseball is coming at the outside part of the plate, likely at 101 mph, with sink or cut.
It all adds up to an ideal scenario for a Giants team that has legitimate October designs. We’ve seen Doval in October before. In 2021, Kapler called on Doval in Game 5 of the epic NLDS against the Dodgers, to get four outs, even. It didn’t work out. Doval hit Justin Turner, then gave up a couple of ground ball singles to Gavin Lux and Cody Bellinger and I just ruined your day, didn’t I?
Every closer gets burned, as I was just saying to Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley. Doval will use that now as layers of elephant skin to deflect future pressure moments.
Full credit to Kapler that he has brought back Doval to be his guy again, just two years later. And there’s a chance the Giants could play the Dodgers in the playoffs, yet again. And Kapler would play it like Sparky Anderson would. He’d call on his traditional closer.
That’s what Doval has done for the Giants’ skipper. The sweet feel of comfort, and tradition.