The Red Sox bullpen was viewed as their biggest asset going into the 2013 season, and that is statement is farthest from truth on July 19th. The Sox had a deadly 7th, 8th, 9th combination with 3 guys who had closer experience. People lauded over this pen that would only force the Sox starters to go only 6 innings and still feel comfortable giving the ball over. Koji Uehara, Andrew Bailey, and Joel Hanrahan made up this super bullpen, but now only Uehara remains. Early in the season the Sox lost Hanrahan who had nearly every type of elbow surgery possible. Today John Farrell announced that Bailey has “pretty significant” damage to his shoulder and surgery is a possibility. If Bailey opts for the surgery he’ll be sidelined for approximately 12 months. If he decides just to rehab the shoulder, it’s still unlikely he’ll return before the season ends. Either scenario shows that the Sox search for another bullpen arm should be intensified. For now, Jose De La Torre will fill the void left by Bailey, but I doubt he’s the permanent fix.
Two guys, who appear to be long shots at best, have been added to the fold. Today the Sox announced the signings of Jose Contreras and Brandon Lyon. Both relievers have been assigned to AAA Pawtucket. Lyon, a former Red Sox, was pitching with the Mets earlier this year. Over 34.1 innings he posted a 4.98 ERA before getting released. Contreras, was with Pirates to begin this season pitching just 7 innings in 5 games with an ERA of 9.00 before getting sent to AAA Indianapolis. In his 19.1 innings in AAA he was dominant with a .0.93 ERA and 11.17 K/9. The Pirates released him and now he’s here hoping for an opportunity. WEEI’s Michael Holley speculated that this could be an attempt to lure top Cuban pitching prospect Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to sign with the Sox. Gonzalez is likely to make a decision this week, and a chance to pitch alongside Jose Contreras would be alluring to a Cuban, but it’s not likely to be a deciding factor. Either way Lyon and Contreras are likely just depth moves to help with the depleted bullpen.
- Andrew Bailey likely out for the season, may need shoulder surgery (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- The Red Sox sign Jose Contreras and Brandon Lyon (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Boston Red Sox: All-Star break report card (isportsweb.com)
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)
Today the Sox made a couple of roster moves. First the Red Sox traded Kelly Shoppach to the New York Mets for a player to be named later. Afterwards they activated Andrew Bailey from the disabled list which takes the roster spot vacated by Shoppach.
With Lavarnway now on the team Shoppach became expendable, so getting some value for him is good. Now getting Bailey back is huge. He’s been very successful as a late inning reliever in Oakland and maybe he can bring some of that to Boston. He’ll start out as a set up man filling in for Vicente Padilla, but they’ll likely ease him into the closer role.
Today the Red Sox announced that they placed Vicente Padilla on the DL and recalled Clayton Mortensen. The Red Sox said in a press release:
“The Boston Red Sox today placed right-handed pitcher Vicente Padilla on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to August 6) with right arm tightness and recalled right-handed pitcher Clayton Mortensen from Triple-A Pawtucket. Mortensen will be active for today’s game against the Rangers at Fenway Park.”
It’s a pretty big blow to the Sox, because Padilla has been a big part of their bullpen and they’ve lost a late inning reliever. Who will fill the eight inning role remains to be seen, but it may end up being Mark Melancon, who acquired to fill that role. Also Andrew Bailey could return very soon as he needs just three more rehab appearances before returning and his next two are scheduled for today and tomorrow.
Earlier today Mark Melancon was optioned to AAA, and Junchi Tazawa was called up to the Red Sox. This comes as no surprise considering Valentine said this was a possibility. At this point this all the Sox can do. Melancon’s awful pitchinghas killed the Sox over and over again.There’s only one problem with this move though, who fills the set up role to Alfredo Aceves. Right now I’d have to give that to Vincente Padilla, but he’s far from a sure thing. Then again, who is a sure thing in that disaster of a bulpen. As I right this Franklin Morales is falling apart and Bobby V refuses to take him out. (of course right after I type that he takes him out) Before the season I was calling this the best bulpen in the East, but that was including Andrew Bailey and Daniel Bard. But even with those two gone it’s no excuse to be as terrible as they are. Nobody is pitching near the level they are expected to pitch at and of course the team suffers for it. I don’t think the Sox’s should go out and scout Scott Podsednik, they need pitching and they need it now. Offense is not the problem at all, neither is the rotation. Everything goes back to the shaky work of the bulpen. I know it’ll be very difficult to find a solution to this problem with trades almost a not an option. Off the top of my head the Huston Street is the only potential option for an elite reliever via trade. Tommorow I’ll write a list of guys who could help the pen by mid May. Lastly I just want to say that both articles I’ve written the past two days have mostly been venting out my frustration towards the Sox. No revision has taken place, so I apologize for any mispellings or anythingthat doesn’t make any sense.
At this moment it feels like the end of world in Red Sox Nation, but with 151 games left that’s hardly the case. It’s not too surprising the Sox have got off to such a slow start. With the exception of Toronto they’ve only played playoff teams’ and Toronto could be headed there this year. I do realize that even with the schedule so far most expected more, but with pitching problems left and right it doesn’t appear that it’ll be resloved quickly. So far my top starter is Felix Doubront, because he hasn’t had a bad outing yet. And the pen isn’t anything special either as Mark Melancon has been nothing short of a disaster and Aceves has struggled so far. Vincete Padilla is the only guy whose shown some level of consistency out of the pen. I think at this point things can only get better, but they need guys to perform how they’ve performed throughout their careers. Any hitting problems will fix themselves, at this all we need to do is fix the pitching.
I know I’m slow to break the news but Andrew Bailey will be out recovering from UCL surgery on his thumb. He’s unsure how he injured it, but its believed that it happened when he colided with Alex Presley at first base in a game against the Pirates. Now the Sox are tasked with finding a replacement closer and they think they have it in Alfredo Aceves. Even though Ben Cherrington said he had confidence in Mark Melancon as a closer when he acquired him it seems to of changed.
I don’t Aceves is a closer type guy. He does his best when he’s pitching multiple innings rather than trying to lock down one inning. Melancon should be the obvious choice because of his past closer experiance with the Astros, but its clear there’s very little faith in him. In the end I think the Sox will end up using a closer by committe style in the ninth, where whose ever hot gets the ball. It might end up being the best idea due to all the talented, but not quite closer-like relievers in the pen.