Red Sox set to demote Andrew Bailey from closer role

The thought their bullpen would be a strength this season. They had former Oakland All-Star closer there from last year and added former Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan via trade this past offseason. However, Hanrahan, who was the closer, was lost for the season back in May. And now it appears Bailey will be demoted from the role.

Bailey allowed a two-run, walk-off homer to Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta in the bottom of the ninth inning on Thursday night, and it is likely his last act as a closer for a while. The last two times Bailey has come on to pitch for the Red Sox, he has blown a one-run lead by serving up a home run. In Bailey’s last five appearances, he’s given up four home runs and walked five, which has helped account for seven earned runs allowed.

“Very frustrating,” Bailey said. “Your starting pitcher goes out there against a great offense and pitches a hell of a game. It’s very frustrating. Once again, I’ve got to make better pitches. I’ve got to find a way to grind through it. Everything feels good. I’m just missing spots. I’ve got to keep grinding through it.”

Bailey’s slump has been dramatic. In those past five appearances, the righty has converted just two of five save opportunities, posting a 15.75 ERA while allowing a .444 opponents’ batting average. This time, Bailey came on with a 3-2 lead. His outing started by walking Victor Martinez on five pitches.

“Yes, I think so,” Manager John Farrell said when asked if he’ll look at other options to close out games. “That might be backing him out of that [role] to get him some work to get on track a little more. We’ll talk more about that internally, about making a potential change.”

There also is a question about Bailey’s velocity since his return from the disabled list a month ago for a right biceps strain.

“The velocity hasn’t come back like it was before the DL stint,” Farrell said. “He doesn’t talk of any inflammation or any uncomfortable feeling in the shoulder and yet the results are what they are.”

Andrew Miller, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara are all candidates to replace Bailey in the ninth inning if Farrell makes a change. Miller, a 6-foot-7 lefty, once was one of the top pitching prospects in baseball for Detroit. He has 43 strikeouts in 26 innings. He’s been lights out against right-handed batters, who are batting just 7-for-47 against Miller. He may get his first shot Friday night against his former team.

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