Bailey Blows Another Save, Sox In Trouble?
While Boston sits at first place in the American League East, there are still a few major concerns for the Red Sox. The biggest? Their closer.
There are many words that can describe Andrew Bailey, but one word has proven to be the best over the past few weeks: unreliable. Bailey’s 4.03 ERA is pretty ugly considering he is the team’s closer, but what is even more concerning is his 2.4 HR/nine innings rate, well above his career rate of .8 HR/9.
Thursday night, John Lackey pitched a gem against the powerhouse hitting machine Detroit Tigers; anytime you face a lineup with the likes of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, it’s fortunate to give up fewer than five runs. Lackey managed to toss seven innings and surrendered only two runs. It was a great effort by Lackey and once Koji Uehara came in and shut down the Tigers in the eighth everything seemed good as the Sox headed into the ninth inning with a solid 3-2 lead and their closer on the mound.
Solid was not the best word last night though as Bailey walked Victor Martinez on five pitches to start the inning and then surrendered a two-run homer to Jhonny Peralta off of a cutter that hung right out over the heart of the plate.
In 2012, the Sox had Alfredo Aceves working as their closer because the team had no choice. They were a sub .500 team, so there was little incentive to make any big moves in the middle of the season. But in 2013, the Sox have a lot to lose. They are first in the AL East with a very slim lead over the Orioles and Yankees, who are a constant threat. Manager John Farrell preaches loyalty, but there comes a time when his loyalty may hurt the team’s chances of winning.
Farrell has been mum on the closer issue to the media while he tries to figure things out. He does admit that Bailey has not been his best though and has hinted that a change may be made.
“Obviously he’s snake-bit right now,” Farrell said.
As for other options, the Sox do not have many. The only standout is Junichi Tazawa, who has excelled as a set-up man (2.51 ERA, 38 K’s over 32 innings) and may do well as the closer. Andrew Miller has been very good this year as well (2.77 ERA), but his career 5.3 walk/nine inning ratio and penchant for wildness makes him a bit risky for the job.
The only other option is to make a trade and see what happens. Either way Ben Cherington and Farrell must act soon because unlike 2012 they have a lot to lose this year.