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But Can He Pitch?

Updated: 2017-06-24T17:00:02-04:00


Red Sox vs. Angels lineup: David Price makes his second home start of the year


The Sox’s highest-paid player hasn’t been good this year, but the Angels could cure what ails him. The Red Sox (41-32) look to build upon the good feelings from yesterday’s David Ortiz celebration and 9-4 victory over the Angels (38-39) when they meet the Halos again tonight at Fenway Park (7:15 p.m., FOX). David Price (5.14 ERA) starts for Boston against righty JC Ramirez (4.59 ERA) in only his second appearance at Fenway on the season. His first, against Philly, was one of two quality starts he’s posted in five overall, this season, albeit just barely. He’s really only had one good outing, against Baltimore in his second time out; you could say he’s due, if you believe in that sort of thing. As for the roster, it’s been a busy 24 hours: #RedSox activated Fister, optioned Velazquez, DL'd Rutledge, selected INF Tzu-Wei Lin and transferred Holt to the 60-day DL— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) June 24, 2017 To be clear, we understand why the “closer” role exists in some of its more rigid interpretations; employees at pretty much any business value clearly defined roles, and no matter how nebulous the save rule is with respect to the highest-leverage inning in any given game, we understand why the structure has survived as it does, even if it seems inane at times. Farrell, the former pitcher and pitching coach, clearly subscribes to the value of this structure. That being said, Matt Barnes is probably miscast as the Red Sox’ set-in-stone setup guy. It’s certainly not the role he was slotted for in the offseason, not with Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg hypothetically battling for it. As Matt Collins wrote here yesterday, Barnes has actually been pretty good, albeit with some control issues that, ironically, make him an easy target for critics like me. Sometimes you gotta just shoot your shot, and we did this week. Still, we’re inclined to generally Farrell & Co. the benefit of the doubt, given the never-ending injuries to Smith and Thornburg, but after this week’s debacle we think it’s probably time to consider a rotating cast into the eighth inning. Really explore the studio space and stuff. Whether you think Wednesday’s meltdown was a usage and performance issue or only the latter — i.e., whether you think Barnes and Robby Scott are alone to blame for Wednesday or whether you think Farrell gets lumped into it — it seems clear that the bullpen as presently constituted might not have the talent to continue its successful run deeper into the season. Are we concern-trolling? A little bit. Mostly we’re just concerned. For as good as the bullpen has been, there are reasons to think that they’re outperforming their actual talent level in aggregate on Craig Kimbrel’s back. Make no mistake, in so doing, they have saved the Red Sox’s season, but we're not sure it’s reasonable to expect their near-dominance to continue, especially when Farrell refuses to use the optimal strategies employed by his most conspicuous predecessor. If Terry Francona can become the league’s darling bullpen manager, Farrell can stand to move an inch or two here, especially because Kimbrel can’t pitch forever. Enough yakkin’. To the numbers: Red Sox record: 40-32 Virtually tied for 1st place in the AL East with the Yankees Last 7 days: 3-3 Last 10 games: 6-4 What we’re criticizing him for today, if anything: The crap above Validity of criticism: 8/11 Danger Points gained: .5 Last week Farrell’s job security was as tight as it has been since we started this (scientifically binding) column, and given that the Sox a) beat the league-best Astros two out of three times in Houston and b) tied the sinking Yankees even in a so-so week, we’re going to give the big guy a full point to bring things down to a solid 2.5 of 11 heading into this weekend’s series against the Mike Trout-less Angels. It’s my hope, but maybe not my expectation, that Farrell et. al learned something from this week. We know we did. Don’t be dicks, folks. As this manager knows all too well, someone is alwa[...]