Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 4-1 win over the Rays
Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox’ 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays . . .
1) Koji is back to being the closer
Prior to Saturday’s contest, John Farrell said that Koji Uehara and Brad Ziegler would share time in the closer role with Craig Kimbrel out for the foreseeable future.
Following the win and Uehara’s save, Farrell plainly stated who has the job of closer first.
“Koji’s our closer,” Farrell said instantly. “And days he’s not going to be available we’ve got Brad [Ziegler] to turn to.”
Farrell’s shown a lot of confidence in Uehara turning things around, given he has a 4.81 ERA this season and blown two saves in six opportunities. Never mind the fact that he’s throwing slower than in years past and his splitter isn’t what it used to be. On top of that, he’s probably the least durable reliever in the bullpen.
In reality, Farrell said Uehara is the closer, but there’s a good chance he uses Ziegler there more solely based on Uehara not being available at a high frequency.
2) Sean O’Sullivan has been pitching hurt
The timing of the move does have some suspicion with the Red Sox needing a spot for Brad Ziegler.
However, the righty was in fact placed on the disabled list last April with the same left knee tendonitis issue, so it’s something that’s bothered him before.
“It’s something he’s been battling for some time and he needs some down time to recover from this,” John Farrell said after making the announcement of the move.
O’Sullivan mentioned that the knee had been an issue most notably in his Friday night start against Tampa.
“It’s kind of been a process where after I throw it’s pretty sore and just kind of work on getting it back to game-ready by day five,” O’Sullivan said. “This last one was kind of tough -- especially in that fourth and fifth inning it was getting hard to post up because it was my land leg . . . Hopefully we can move all the way past it and not have it effect any more outings.”
There are two takeaways from this:
One is that O’Sullivan could bring more to the table if he gets healthy, but it’ll be hard give the way he lands on his left leg and throws across his body.
And second, an injured O’Sullivan has been more effective than Clay Buchholz this season.
3) Porcello has finally gotten comfortable at Fenway
This isn’t something that’s gone unnoticed all year with Porcello winning eight of nine starts at Fenway this year -- getting the no-decision in the other game.
“More than anything we look back to the year and a half that he’s been here,” John Farrell said. “Probably the first half of last season having [to] get comfortable in his surroundings. The first time [he’d been away from the Tigers after six full years in the big leagues there. Second half of the year he finished strong and has carried that momentum into the start of this year. There’s no question he feels comfortable on the mound here.”
Porcello explained after the win that spending more time with the club and at Fenway has made it easier for him to throw with the Green Monster out in left. But he also admitted that throwing at Fenway has its pros and cons -- like any other ballpark.
“Having a year of pitching here now, being familiar with everything [I’ve been] a lot more comfortable,” Porcello said. “It gives and takes. There’s a lot of hard hit balls that go of the wall that are potential homeruns in other ballparks . . . There’s a lot of opportunities that work in your advantage as a pitcher. Obviously the disadvantages that it’s a little bit shorter and some fly balls will hit of [the Green Monster] or go over the wall that maybe won’t go out somewhere else.”
Following the seven-inning effort Farrell noted that Porcello’s success at Fenway are due to two components of his game
“His sinker works well here,” Farrell said. “And more than anything, his walk rate is at a career low. He’s doing an outstanding job of limited the overall baserunners.”
Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar