Tonight’s 3-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays has created a bit of stir. It seemed like the pen was working as it has been for the past few weeks with Tazawa finishing off the seventh and Uehara pitching the eighth. Then things got interesting when everyone saw Joel Hanrahan warming up to pitch the ninth rather than Andrew Bailey. This caused mass confusion as everyone searched for answers, and at first they found none. Hanrahan would come on to close out the game and after giving up a hit to start off the inning, he got a pop out and a double play to get him out of the inning. Following the game it was revealed that Bailey was suffering from bicep soreness, the same injury that landed John Lackey on the DL the last time the Sox were in Toronto. It appears he injury is minor, but you can never know for sure. Hopefully he can avoid a DL stint, but if he does avoid it who is the closer?
Joel Hanrahan was brought to Boston to be a closer. Unfortunately for him, things haven’t gone so smoothly. He’s given up 7 runs in 6.2 innings posting a 9.45 ERA with 4 strikeouts and 5 walks. He has converted 4 saves in 5 attempts though, so he was come through when needed most of the time. He was also sidelined with a hamstring injury, which he believes was the source of his pitching woes. I hope that’s true because if Hanrahan pitches anywhere near the way he did while “injured” I have no faith in him going forward. He did pass his first real test since coming back, but it was a little shaky, but it’s steps in the right direction. If he wants to ever be able to fully take back his closer role from Bailey, he’ll need to return to his 2011 form. 2011 was his breakout year where he saved a career best 40 games with a 1.83 ERA in 68.2 innings allowing just 14 earned runs all year. He also posted the lowest BB/9 of career, 2.1, and his lowest WHIP, 1.049. The following year he lost a lot of the control that made him the dominant reliever that he was in 2011 with his BB/9 sky rocketing to 5.2. We are starting to see that here so far this year as it seems as if sometimes his command will disappear for a couple pitches and then suddenly return. This volatile pitching isn’t what you want in the ninth with the game on the line because you need to be able to come up with a big pitch at any given time, but he can’t command his pitches he could find himself loading up the bases pretty quickly. Overall though, Hanrahan hasn’t been completely awful. He’s made the pitches when he’s needed to (most of the time) and has carried himself well through this whole mess.
Andrew Bailey was also brought here to close, but after an injury plagued season and less than stellar performances in his few appearances, it appeared as if Andrew Bailey would never get a chance to close in Boston again. Luckily, for him, the man tasked with closing out games hit the DL and allowed him to show Red Sox Nation he’s still a viable closer. Unfortunately Hanrahan has returned and Bailey has found himself injured and his stint as closer may be short lived, but is Bailey the better choice. The former Rookie of the Year compiled 3 solid years for the Oakland A’s striking out 174 batters in 174 innings while posting a 2.07 ERA with 75 saves. What I like about Bailey being the strikeout machine that he is, is that he doesn’t rely on the hitter not to square up his pitch, but he relies on his swing and miss stuff. That’s the best way to stop a team, because if they can’t hit than there’s nothing they can do. Bailey has pitched well this year picking up 5 saves in 6 attempts and in his only blown save he was able to tightrope out of tough spot and ended up picking up the win. All in all, when he’s Bailey could be one of, if not the, best reliever in the game.
Overall looking at both of them I think it’s a no-brainer, Andrew Bailey should be the Red Sox closer. He’s not only been the better pitcher this year, but has shown that he has a much more consistent track record. I have much more trust in Bailey right now than I do in Hanrahan so I believe that’s the direction the Sox’s should go. What’s your opinion?
- Joel Hanrahan’s Injury Continues to Linger in Back of Closer’s Mind, Creating ‘Frustrating’ Situation (nesn.com)
- BoSox take series from Blue Jays, win 20th game (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)
- Red Sox activate Joel Hanrahan, but will he resume closing? (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)