Trust in Andrew Bailey
“Trust” That was the message Alfredo Aceves left on Bobby Valentine’s desk.
That was Monday, 9th April, at the Rogers Center in Toronto after Aceves had gone two consecutive appearances without recording an out.
Today, Aceves has an ERA of 4.14 and in his last high leverage situation against Texas on August 8th he allowed an inherited runner to score on a sac fly on the second pitch he threw. Before allowing that run, the winning run, hitters were 6-for-15 against Aceves this season with runners on 1st and 3rd and nobody out. Aceves had only two strikeouts in those at bats.
A ‘Closer’ needs to be a pitcher who can come into tough situations like that – a tie game, runners on second and third with nobody out – and set down 3 guys in row.
Aceves current K/9 is a career high of 7.96 but it still doesn’t compare favourably to that of current Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon at 11.20 or the Atlanta Braves Craig Kimbrel at 15.64.
To be fair to Aceves you can’t really expect to compare him to two of the top closers in baseball but it’s illustrative of the reason he cannot be trusted to reliably be a stopper.
It’s also fair to point out that he was forced into the unfamiliar role when Andrew Bailey hit the DL and Mark Melancon was ineffective. Daniel Bard might have been next on the list but the less we say about that the better.
It’s been announced today that Andrew Bailey is coming off the DL, somewhat earlier than anticipated, and the closer role is wide open for him. The acceleration of the rehab program is about as clear an indication of what Ben Cherington thinks as we will get.
Bailey’s career K/9 averages out to 9.00 and was a little under 10 in 2009 when his ERA over 80 innings was 1.84. In fact, Bailey has an impressive 2.07 ERA over 3 major league seasons. There is, however, a word of caution. His 2011 numbers were not as impressive as those in his first two seasons and we’ve yet to see him pitch for these Red Sox, but before he first grips a ball in the 9th there is room for optimism that the Red Sox might get not only a closer to trust but see the return of a trustworthy a middle inning reliever.