By Andy Lindberg
After all the effort Ben Cherrington spent re-vamping the Red Sox’s bullpen, one of the most critical members of the ‘pen has gone down with an injury, and may be out for as long as a few months if surgery is necessary.
Closer Andrew Bailey has not received good news regarding his injured thumb, according to sources.
Bailey, who will be 28 in May, has battled injuries before during his three-year career; however he has been extremely effective when healthy, posting 75 career saves, a 2.07 ERA and an excellent 206 ERA+ (above 100 is considered above average). If Bailey is indeed out for an extended period, look to Alfredo Aceves and newcomer Mark Melancon to pick up the slack in the ninth inning. The 26-year-old Melancon saved 20 games for Houston last year and came over in a trade for infielder Jed Lowrie.
Aside from the hurt it puts on Boston’s bullpen, it also throws pitchers with relative inexperience at closing into the fire. The 2003 “closer by committee” approach did not work out well, and there’s no reason to think a closer shuffle would work again. The Red Sox are coming off of the most disappointing year in recent memory and need to keep pace with the Rays and Yankees in the AL East. Injuries killed Boston’s 2010 season and right now, the outlook in the bullpen is already strained.
Josh Beckett got good news on his hurting thumb and is still on track to pitch on Saturday in Detroit.