What do the Sox do about the closer’s role?
Isn’t that a wonderful problem to have?
Andrew Bailey has done a wonderful job filling in while Joel Hanrahan has been injured. It’s not really a surprise. The Bailey’s an all-star closer. So, maybe that’s that makes this a non-issue. The Sox started the season with Hanrahan as the closer, knowing full well that Bailey was as least as good, if not better, in the role. So, can’t imagine why they wouldn’t make the same decision again.
My first thought was that maybe you let Bailey keep the closer’s role until Hanrahan is fully back. Let him have a few “get into the flow” games before having him close. But, I realized that I wasn’t sure when those opportunities would be. Do you bring him in for mop-up duty? I doubt that’s helping anybody. Do you have him set-up while he gets his feet wet? That would assume two things. One, that set-up opportunities are less important than closing. They’re not. After all, if Hanrahan blows a one-run lead in the eighth, you don’t need a closer. The other assumption is that Hanrahan would pitch well in the set-up role. Some closers just can’t do that. We all know that all too well. Bailey might be the exception to that. Which is also one strike against him in this case.
Bailey has shown all year that he can be an effective set-up guy. A very effective one at that. The Sox would be silly to play with things when they have a known entity on their hands.
But, that wouldn’t change the fact that your bullpen would have two pitchers very capable of closing. How do you use that bullpen? Do you make it as simple as Bailey setting up for Hanrahan? Do you turn Bailey into a true fireman? If you need outs in the sixth inning, bring him in then? You still have your closer waiting. Can you use Bailey in tie games, or games where the Sox are a run behind?
I’ve often wondered if you can have two complete bullpens. Can you have Tazawa set up for Bailey, and Uehara set up for Hanrahan? Would they get enough work in if you alternated those two?
John Farrell could get very creative with this, or very boring.
Can’t wait to find out.