BOSTON (CBS) — If the Boston Red Sox end up missing the playoffs and are looking for something to blame at the end of the season, they can look straight to their lackluster bullpen as the main culprit.
The bullpen has struggled throughout the season, but August has been a month of horrors for Boston relievers. Look no further than Sunday night’s 10-4 loss to Kansas City at Fenway Park, where the Royals tagged Boston reliever Matt Barnes for five runs in the sixth inning. Barnes did not record an out, and now has an 11.17 ERA in 11 appearances in August.
Barnes is not alone in his ineptitude this month. Junichi Tazawa has been even worse, sporting an 11.25 ERA over nine August appearances. Fernando Abad, acquired at the trade deadline to provide manager John Farrell with a lefty specialist, has allowed five runs and 14 base runners in his eight August innings.
Farrell has appeared terrified to call upon his bullpen over the last few weeks, and it extends beyond those three just mentioned. Brad Ziegler looks to be the perfect candidate to own the eighth inning, but Farrell apparently disagrees, opting to mix and match the bridge to closer Craig Kimbrel based on matchups.
Tony Massarotti disagrees with this approach, and would like to see Ziegler get the eighth permanently. But if Farrell doesn’t like that approach, given lefties are batting .290 off Ziegler, Mazz offered a very interesting suggestion on Sunday night’s Sports Final on WBZ-TV: Clay Buchholz.
“This idea of matching up in the eighth, I don’t like. I never liked it. If you’re going to be a winning team, you have to have an eighth inning guy. If you want to piece it, I think you can piece the sixth and the middle part of the game. Piecing the eighth and the ninth gets a little dicey. You have to have set roles there, and I think Farrell knows this,” said Mazz.
“I think he has to pick someone. If it’s Buchholz, so be it,” Mazz said to the surprise of host Dan Roche. “I know, I never thought I’d be saying this. But if Farrell thinks you have to have a guy to get lefties and righties, Buchholz has got the stuff to get lefties and righties. And maybe it keeps him engaged too.
“The more important thing is the plan. I would have gone Ziegler by now, but if not him give Buchholz a shot,” said Mazz.
Rochie and Mazz also discuss Dustin Pedroia’s incredible streak at the plate and what is going on with catcher Christian Vazquez in the video above. Tune in to Sports Final and Sports Final OT every Sunday night at 11:35 p.m. on WBZ-TV!