Farrell Gets it Right – Bailey to Remain Closer (For Now)

Give John Farrell credit on this one.  For all the controversy that surrounded his decision to hand the shortstop job to Stephen Drew and send overachieving José Iglesias to Pawtucket, Farrell quelled the fears of Sox fans Tuesday when he notified Joel Hanrahan that Andrew Bailey would be remaining the closer for the time being.

There was little debate who would be closer when the trade was made to bring Hanrahan to Boston from the Pittsburgh Pirates, with Farrell anointing Hanrahan before spring training even started.  At the time, it had made sense, with Hanrahan coming off back-to-back All-Star seasons while Bailey had spent most of 2012 on the DL after reconstructive surgery for the thumb on his throwing hand.  When Bailey finally returned, he was inconsistent, making just 19 appearances while compiling a 7.04 ERA.

Hanrahan never got a chance to piece it together, however, after a disastrous six game stint as closer saw him blow his last save opportunity to the Baltimore Orioles when he allowed five runs on three hits (two home runs) and two walks.

Bailey, on the other hand, stepped into the role when Hanrahan was put on the 15-day DL with a right hamstring injury, and stepped up in a big way.  Bailey has shut the door on five of six opportunities while rediscovering his dominant cutter and mid-90’s fastball that made him an All-Star and Rookie of the Year with the Oakland Athletics.

While Farrell and Sox management may have made the wrong move on replacing Iglesias with Drew – though the defense can be made that Iglesias had more options and Drew may have deserved a look – the ninth inning was not a place Farrell was going to gamble with.  The dilemma now will be where to fit in Hanrahan in a bullpen that has been lights out.  Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara have nailed down the set-up roles with a 22 1/3 innings allowing two walks combined.  Conversly, Hanrahan has walked five batters in just 4 2/3 innings.

With the Red Sox hotter than any team in baseball (18-7) and sporting a pitching staff that has surprised even the most optimistic and pinkest of hats (3.39 ERA, MLB leading 248 strikeouts) – finding a spot to squeeze in a former All-Star closer may be the most welcome problem Farrell has ever seen.

The Numbers

Andrew Bailey: 1-0 ¦ 1.46 ERA ¦ 5 Saves ¦ 12 1/3 IN ¦ 20K ¦ 4BB ¦ 0.811 WHIP

Joel Hanrahan: 0-1 ¦ 11.57 ERA ¦ 3 Saves ¦ 4 2/3 IN ¦ 4K ¦ 5BB ¦ 2.357 WHIP

Career Strikeout-to-walk ratio: Bailey: 3.41  Hanrahan: 2.23

 

Jay Coorey – MLB Contributer – Title Town Sports

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