After blowing his third save in 10 days, Andrew Bailey will be replaced as the closer.
Bailey allowed a walk-off, two-run homer to Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta in Boston’s 4-3 loss Thursday night, after which manager John Farrell said Bailey will be moved into a lower-leverage role in the bullpen, at least temporarily.
“Yeah, I think so,” Farrell said. “Whether that’s backing him out of that (ninth inning) to get him some work to get on track a little bit more. What the internal options are and out of fairness to Andrew and others down there late in the game, we’ll talk more about that internally to make a potential change.”
After allowing a total of eight homers over the past three seasons, Bailey has given up four home runs in his last four appearances. On June 10, Rays catcher Jose Lobaton took him deep in the 10th inning. Last Saturday, he gave up a solo homer to Orioles catcher Matt Wieters. And on Tuesday night, Rays second baseman Kelly Johnson went deep against Bailey.
Bailey insists he’s healthy — “I feel fine,” he said before repeating, “I feel great” — but the results since he returned from a two-week stint on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis tell another story.
Bailey’s fastball velocity has dipped from consistent 96 mph readings before the injury to only about 94 mph last night. As a result, he hasn’t been generating many swings and misses, especially on fastballs up in the zone. Instead, those pitches are being hit out of the ballpark with alarming regularity.
“Very frustrating,” Bailey said. “Your starting pitcher goes out there against a great offense and pitches a hell of a game. It’s very frustrating. I’m just not being myself out there. I’ve got to pitch better.”
The homers aren’t Bailey’s only problem. In each of his last four outings, the leadoff man has reached base. On Thursday night, Victor Martinez drew a five-pitch walk and prompted the Red Sox to call down to the bullpen for Andrew Miller to get loose.
But there wasn’t enough time. Even after Bailey got two quick strikes on Peralta, he failed to get him to chase a high fastball and then left a slider over the plate. Peralta hit a line-drive homer over the left-field fence.
“I feel like I have the same mentality,” Bailey said. “It’s challenging hitters. I didn’t challenge the first batter of the inning. Maybe I was picking too much. I’ve got to get back to challenging guys. Clearly, what I’m doing right now isn’t working, so I’ve got to start getting ahead of guys.”