The Boston Red Sox were forced to make several roster moves on Tuesday as manager John Farrell tried to fill holes on his pitching staff…
…holes from having to send Joel Hanrahan to the disabled list for the second time this season, one day after closer Andrew Bailey landed there – leaving the Sox without an experienced closer. In their stead, Farrell promoted reliever Junichi Tazawa to the closer role.
It’s certainly not time to panic, as Tazawa has been solid in the late inning set up role, posting a 2.51 ERA in 16 appearances. There was some thought that the excitable Koji Uehara might be a better choice, given the fact that he has done some minimal closing work in the past, but Farrell cited the need for flexibility in regard to Uehara.
“Well, the one thing I like about Koji is, typically, if you’re going to get those pinch hit left-handers in the eighth inning, he’s so effective against lefties,” Farrell said on Tuesday afternoon, pointing out that Tazawa has a little more zip on his fastball to blow it past guys looking to take big cuts.
“Tazawa has a little bit more fastball which, whether I’m siding to the traditional approach with a little bit more power late in the game, that’s there. So, right now that’s the initial approach that we’d take to closing things out.”
Farrell assuredly has stats on his side, as Uehara dominates lefties to the tune of a minuscule .143 batting average against, and has a numbing high five when he gets back to the dugout.
In another move, Farrell also announced that left-hander Felix Doubront and his dead arm are being relegated to the bullpen and rookie Allen Webster was on his way to Boston from Pawtucket to take Doubront’s place in the starting rotation.
Doubront has been struggling with both velocity and control, throwing beach balls in his last start in Texas where he was stomped to the tune of six runs on 12 hits in less than four innings, while Webster has been throwing filthy stuff for the Paw Sox…
…but the sudden issues with the pitching staff has to be concerning, despite the fact that the Sox have enough depth to mask the issues for now, but the truth of the matter is that if anything else goes down, the staff will be in serious trouble, particularly in the pen.
But for now Farrell is counting his lucky stars that Hanrahan, a total disappointment thus far in 2013, will not need surgery for what is being called a flexor-pronator strain, which will sideline him indefinately.
Hanrahan was brought in as a free agent this offseason for many dollars to take over the closer’s role, but between an earlier stint on the DL and Monday night’s issue, the former Pittsburgh Pirate who posted 72 Saves and logged 128 innings pitched in the past two seasons has a total of fours saves and 7.1 innings pitched for the Sox, and has now blown his last two save opportunities.
But Hanrahan has that closer’s mentality and short memory and doesn’t worry about things that he can’t control, sarcastically stating, “I figure I’ll be fresh for October”.
But if the Sox have any more problems with their pitching staff, there won’t be baseball for them in October…