San Francisco Giants: Camilo Doval, the best closer in baseball

They call him Camilo Tranquilo and he’s the best closer in baseball.

For those unfamiliar, we’re talking about Camilo Doval, the Giants’ unflappable All-Star reliever and burgeoning superstar.

Doval is the first man in 2023 to reach 30 saves and the 26-year-old flamethrowing right-hander is enjoying a magnificent season. Over the past couple of years he has developed into the leader of a Giants bullpen that ranks among the best in the majors and has been a huge contributor to San Francisco’s recent success.

What’s his secret?

Doval is renowned for his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cutter, which averages 100.1 mph and terrifies hitters. Right-handed batters are averaging a miniscule .063 against this pitch, per Baseball Savant. Doval threw a cutter against the Diamondbacks last September that was recorded at an eye-watering 104 mph, smashing his previous career-high and setting a Giants franchise record at the same time. I have no idea how guys can compete against a pitch this filthy.

Doval combines the cutter with an equally effective wipeout slider. When facing a left-handed hitter, Doval throws the slider inside and his opponents can’t get anywhere near it, batting a paltry .053. When the pitch travels 10 mph slower than his cutter but seemingly on the same trajectory, before suddenly breaking away, you can see the despair written all over the hitter’s face. They don’t stand a chance.

Completing the holy trinity is Doval’s sinker, which he throws almost 30% of the time and introduced in 2022 to devastating effect. This year it hasn’t enjoyed quite the same level of success as his amazing cutter and slider combo, but the sinker keeps hitters honest thanks to its late bite and the fact Doval still throws it over 98 mph.

Doval’s potent and diverse pitch mix has helped establish him among the elite relievers in the game and he deservedly earned his place on the All-Star squad in Seattle. Doval featured in the game and pitched a clean seventh inning, impressing a national audience with his scoreless outing. Thanks to an eighth inning National League rally, Doval was rewarded as the winning pitcher and became the first Giant since Matt Cain in 2012 to emerge as the victorious pitcher from the All-Star Game.

The Dominican created more history when he achieved the rare feat of collecting two saves in a single day on Tuesday 18 July. When the rain in Cincinnati caused Monday night’s game to be postponed, the Giants had to play out the final innings on Tuesday afternoon. San Francisco took a 4-2 lead against the Reds into the tenth inning and Doval was called upon to seal the win, which he duly did, striking out Joey Votto with a spin and a skip to capture his 29th save of the year.

Doval needed just 13 pitches and apparently felt fresh enough to go again a few hours later, and the Giants needed his poise and composure to apply the finishing touches in a wild 11-10 victory. The Reds looked threatening with runners at first and second with only one out but Doval painted a 101 mph sinker on the outside corner that Spencer Steer grounded into the eager hands of Giants second baseman Brett Wisely. Despite some unsteady footwork, the Giants rookie managed to turn a double play that red-hot home run hero Wilmer Flores scooped magnificently at first base, sealing the win and Doval’s 30th save of the campaign thus far.

Even though Doval’s first save of the day will technically be attributed to Monday 17 July, I still say he achieved something unique and rarely seen in the modern game; the last Giant with a pair of saves in one day was the franchise record holder for saves Robb Nen, way back on 4 July 2000. I’m sure Doval won’t mind being included in the company of a Giants great like Nen.

San Francisco find themselves with a seven game win streak and a season-high 13 games over .500, moving away from Arizona and San Diego with every passing day and inching ever closer to Los Angeles atop the NL West. Doval is undoubtedly one of the huge reasons why the Giants find themselves in this position. There’s no question he has been one of the most important weapons in the Giants’ arsenal and is currently the hardest-working closer in the league; among relievers with 10+ saves, Doval’s 45 innings pitched leads MLB.

It’s fair to say Doval’s back-to-back heroics in the space of a few hours on Tuesday has earned the young man a couple of days off. The Giants will be counting on him again many times between now and the end of the season.

They’ll need all the tranquility their star closer can muster as they head down the stretch.

Ash Day is the San Francisco Giants writer for Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter: @AshDay29

Photo credit for featured image by Suzanna Mitchell/San Francisco Giants/Getty Images.

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