Red Sox manager John Farrell said Andrew Bailey remains the team's closer for now, "but there's work to do."
Understatement of the year.
Bailey blew another save in the Sox 3-1 win last night and wasted a brilliant eight-inning effort from Felix Doubront. Bailey has allowed five runs over his last four games. He's blown three saves in 11 opportunities on the year. Bailey is missing spots and missing often. He's allowed 10 walks in 22 1/3 innings, a 4.0 walks per nine rate. Those stats are almost "Bard-like" and we're not talking Shakespeare.
How long is Bailey's leash? Manager John Farrell said, "We have to get [Bailey] more consistent. No doubt. But he's our closer."
Not quite a vote of confidence.
What are the Red Sox options at closer? Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara are possible candidates. However, Farrell doe not like to use Koji on back-to-back days. Tazawa was not as effective when he was a part-time closer in May, recording zero saves while opponents hit .406 off him in the ninth inning. Andrew Miller would be an interesting choice. Miller has the second-highest strikeout per nine ratio in the major leagues with 15.0 strikeouts per nine. Miller has struck out 32 of his last 53 outs, giving up only eight runs in 32 games. But the Red Sox seem comfortable with Miller's current role with the team.
With the trade deadline about a month away, the Red Sox could look outside the organization. Possible closers that could be available include the Mets Bobby Parnell (10 saves), the Astros Jose Veras (14 saves) and the Marlins Steve Cishek (10 saves).
There also a closer, maybe you've heard of him, by the name of Jonathan Papelbon. However, Boston is one of the teams on Paps "no-trade" list and the Tigers seem to be the team in hot pursuit.
While it would be fun to welcome back the Red Sox all-time saves leader, the likelihood of it happening are very slim. Papelbon is owed up to $33.6 million over 2 or 3 years, depending on if he hits his vesting option of finishing 15 games in 2015. The price tag in prospects would also be very high. Start with Xander Bogaerts and Allen Webster and the Phillies might talk. The Red Sox have already made it known across the league they will not be dealing their high profile prospects. They have been down this big money, give away the farm road before. Most of them play for the last place Dodgers now.
It's Bailey's job for the time being. But the clock is ticking and you better believe general manager Ben Cherington's phone is ringing.