The Red Sox are about to get one of their more solid relief options back.
Hector Velazquez will be rehabbing from a lower back strain this weekend with the PawSox and will rejoin the Red Sox bullpen next week.
After making a start in the fourth game of the year, Velazquez has pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen (he made one more spot start in mid-April). In his ten total appearances, he’s posted a team low 2.10 ERA.
The bullpen role seems to fit Velazquez better than a starting role in the Majors. Before coming to the Red Sox last season, he spent eight seasons in the pitching in the Mexican League, where he started 198 games. Fortunately, he is comfortable in whatever role he’s needed.
“I’m here for whatever role they want to put me in and mentally prepare myself for any role,” Velazquez told reporters through a translator earlier this week.
His willingness to pitch in any role and his ERA are encouraging signs, along with the fact that he can be used for multiple innings. This is important because of how frustratingly inconsistent Red Sox starters have been of late.
But even with this, there’s still a little bit of reason to worry. Velazquez has only appeared in two high leverage situations this year – the lowest out of all Red Sox relievers. Along with this, he really doesn’t have of a lot of relief experience with only 15 relief innings on the season and 10.1 last season. So we don’t really know what he’ll be like as a regular reliever.
At the same time, though, he’s not being relied on to be a closer. There are about four or five other guys in the bullpen who’d come before him in a save situation. So the lack of high leverage appearances aren’t too much to worry about.
As for the lack of relief experience, that doesn’t seem to be affecting him at all. Since April 20th, Velazquez has only given up one run in twelve innings over six appearances.
“Right now given my current situation, my goal is simply to help the team win any way I can, starting or relieving,” Velazquez said.
Couple the attitude with the good performance and he will hopefully continue to see positive results.