|Craig Breslow eyeing signing as starting pitcher||11.10.15 at 3:43 pm ET|
Much like Hill — a longtime reliever who is almost certainly going to lock up a guaranteed major league deal after four stellar starts in September with the Red Sox — Breslow sees the prospects of switching roles to starter as a potential opportunity.
According to sources, Breslow is prepared to inform major league teams he would like the opportunity to start in 2016, having filled the role for two games with the Sox last September. The 35-year-old lefty allowed two runs over 9 1/3 innings in his two starts, coming against the Orioles and Indians.
Breslow was healthy throughout 2015 after battling injuries the season before, but wasn’t able to distinguish himself in the Red Sox bullpen. He finished the year having appeared in 45 games, totaling a 4.15 ERA.
Some of Breslow’s previous organizations have toyed with the idea of him morphing into a starting role, but he remained entrenched as a reliever throughout his 11-year big league career.
While it uncertain if a team would sign Breslow strictly as a starter, the potential versatility might help him find guaranteed money. He had re-signed with the Red Sox prior to last season, making $2 million for the one year.
|Saturday’s Red Sox-Indians matchups: Craig Breslow vs. Corey Kluber||10.03.15 at 12:54 pm ET|
Ensured of a losing season following Friday’s loss in Cleveland, and back in a tie for last place in the American League East, the 78-82 Red Sox take the field for the penultimate game of 2015 on Saturday night with Craig Breslow on the mound against Corey Kluber, who has been unable to duplicate last year’s AL Cy Young season.
Breslow (0-3, 4.22 ERA) made his first career start last Saturday against the Orioles, allowing just two hits in four innings as the Sox cruised to an 8-0 victory.
“Now that it’s done and it went pretty well, it was a lot of fun,” the 35-year-old left-hander said. “I don’t know how many guys make 500-some odd career relief appearances and then get a chance to start their first big league game.”
Breslow, who again will be limited to 50-60 pitches Saturday, has not faced the Indians this season. In his career vs. Cleveland, spanning 26 games and 26 innings, he is 1-3 with a 2.42 ERA.
|Closing Time: Craig Breslow, Red Sox bullpen lead way in win over Orioles||09.26.15 at 7:03 pm ET|
The Red Sox didn’t know what to expect Saturday when they didn’t have a starting pitcher available and needed to use their bullpen for the entire game, but what they got exceed any expectations.
Seven pitchers combined to allow five hits and no runs in a 8-0 win over the Orioles at Fenway Park. Six of the eight Red Sox runs were unearned. It was their second straight win, as they won Friday’s game in dramatic fashion.
The Red Sox earned shutout wins on back-to-back days for the first time since April 23-24, 2011.
Craig Breslow got the start and went four innings, allowing just one hit, while walking two and striking out two. He threw 55 pitches and went beyond the one time through the order interim manager Torey Lovullo wanted prior to the game.
“He stepped up at a moment’s notice, gave us four quality innings, scored a run, we started to play a little bit of downhill baseball. Just a great team effort, highlighted by [Breslow],” he said. “Timely hitting, solid defense. Not one thing stand out offensively. Just a solid team effort. One of those special moments for Bres. First career start, he gives us four scoreless.”
In starting the game, Breslow made his first start in 523 major league games, becoming the first pitcher to make his first start that late in a career in games played since Troy Percival in his 639th game in 2007. He also passed Scott Atchison as the oldest ever Red Sox pitcher at the time of his first major league start.
“It was (fun) — now that it’s done and went pretty well. It was a lot of fun,” Breslow said. “At the time, I was consumed by some other thoughts. It was a lot of fun. I don’t know how many guys make 500 some-odd career relief appearances and then get a chance to start their first big league game.”
“I was pretty nervous,” he added. “I had no idea — kind of stupid things you don’t think about like where am I supposed to play catch before I go into the bullpen, what do I do during the national anthem? Those kinds of things that I’ve never faced before. Like I said, I drew on some of the other starters and followed the crowd. Like I said, it worked out.”
Health Hembree (win, one inning), Matt Barnes (two innings), Alexi Ogando (1/3 inning), Tommy Layne (1/3 inning), Noe Ramirez (1/3 inning) and Jonathan Aro (one inning) all followed Breslow to combine for the shutout win.
Veteran left-hander Craig Breslow will make the first start of his career Saturday afternoon as the Red Sox take on Wei-Yin Chen and the Orioles in the middle game of a three-game series at Fenway Park.
Breslow (0-3, 4.53 ERA), who has made 43 relief appearances this season and 522 in his career, is not expected to hang around very long in a fill-in start.
“In the 40-pitch range would be a safe assumption,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “We just don’t want to stretch him out too far where we blow him out.”
The 35-year-old has struggled of late, posting an 0-2 record and 8.36 ERA since Aug. 4. In his last appearance on Tuesday against the Rays, he pitched a scoreless top of the ninth, allowing a leadoff hit but then recording a strikeout and a double play. He threw 23 pitches. He has not been used very much this month, with just four appearances and seven innings to his credit.
Although he has a solid 2.01 ERA in 38 career appearances vs. the Orioles, Breslow’s ERA is 4.22 in his last seven games against the O’s.
|Clay Buchholz throws off mound Friday in first step to potentially appear in game||09.25.15 at 6:09 pm ET|
Although it was just the mound in the bullpen, it was a major step in Buchholz getting back to full strength, as he threw 20 pitches with a catcher standing in front of home plate, in a bullpen session he refers to as a “front toss bullpen.”
The entire starting rotation watched the session and Buchholz came away pleased, according to interim manager Torey Lovullo.
“He felt great. The reports were that there was a lot of energy, a lot of intensity,” Lovullo said. “He’s finishing his pitches. The conversation I had with Clay afterwards, he’s very encouraged. He was pain free and those were the things we were looking for.”
There was some optimism Buchholz would be able to throw an inning in a game this season, but with the regular season coming to a close a week from Sunday, it doesn’t appear likely — although not completely ruled out.
“Considering how long he’s been down, it’s going to be very risky to give him a start,” Lovullo said. “I don’t think that’s in the cards — whether it’s an inning or a start — we’re unsure right now. We just don’t want to put him in harms way. We want to make sure he’s healthy with step one which was today. Step two will be the bullpen. I think the idea is just getting him on the mound, with he slant, feeling the rubber, feeling the dirty in his spikes — there’s a lot to be said for that for a player who is trying to build confidence coming back from an injury.
“Step one is very good, I don’t want to look too far beyond that, but I don’t think a start is in the cards.”
If Buchholz feels well Saturday, a bullpen would be the next step, but the date of that has yet to be determined.
“We just don’t want to stretch him out too far and overwhelm him,” Lovullo said.
|Closing Time: Marlins get better of Red Sox in battle of worsts||08.11.15 at 10:45 pm ET|
MIAMI — This Koji Uehara-free closer thing has never really worked out too well over the past three seasons, and Tuesday night was no exception.
Carrying a one-run lead into the ninth inning, the Red Sox turned to Junichi Tazawa to pick up his second career save. But the reliever couldn’t get the job done, allowing the Marlins to score a game-tying run in the ninth.
“It’s something that we talked about pregame,” Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo said of the decision to use Tazawa as a closer. (Lovullo was subbing in for John Farrell after the manager’s hernia surgery). “With lineup construction, depending where we were in the lineup with certain matchups. We didn’t have a closer with certainty. We just figured based on where we were in the lineup, the way we wanted to construct it and have the right matchups. The way it lined up was with [Jean] Machi in the eighth and Tazawa in the ninth.”
The move didn’t quite work out despite a strikeout of Derek Deitrich. With one out, the lefty-hitting Justin Bour rifled the game-winning hit into left-center field to score Gordon.
|Closing Time: Jose Altuve’s walkoff homer stretches Red Sox losing streak to 8 games||07.23.15 at 11:49 pm ET|
HOUSTON — There was seemingly no other way to punctuate this road trip.
Seven games. Seven losses. Outscored 39-13. Eight-game losing streak. Twelve games out of first place. Twelve games under .500.
It was a stretch that saw the Red Sox hit .204 with just three home runs, striking out 51 times and drawing 13 walks. Their ERA was 5.37 (6.29 for the starters), with Sox pitchers giving up 16 homers.
And then there was the finale.
The latest loss would come courtesy a walkoff, solo homer from Jose Altuve in the ninth inning against Craig Breslow, giving the Astros a 5-4 win over the Red Sox on Thursday night at Minute Maid Park.
“It was a fastball down,” Breslow said. “Probably got a lot of plate. But in a 3-1 count, I wanted to throw the ball over the plate, didn’t want to give him a chance to get on base via the walk. He’s obviously a fast guy, base-stealer, so that presented a different host of problems. But once I fell behind, I needed to make sure the ball was in the strike zone.”
Altuve’s blast just cleared the left-field fence (coming in Breslow’s second inning of work), and spoiled the Sox’ eighth-inning comeback, which had been led by Mike Napoli.
The Red Sox first baseman notched three hits, including a solo home run and a line-drive RBI double in the eighth that tied the game at 4. The last hit — coming with two outs — plated Hanley Ramirez, who had followed Ortiz‘ leadoff homer with a single and stolen base.
In the end, however, the latest defeat came courtesy an overall bullpen meltdown, with the combination of Alexi Ogando and Junichi Tazawa proving unable to protect another gem from Wade Miley. The pair of relievers allowed three seventh-inning runs to the Astros, blowing the win for the starter.
|Red Sox pregame notes: How long will Xander Bogaerts hit third?; Craig Breslow on paternity leave||06.12.15 at 5:42 pm ET|
For the first time in his major league career, Xander Bogaerts got to the park and saw his name penciled in as the Red Sox‘ No. 3 hitter.
With Hanley Ramirez getting a day off dealing with a left hamstring issue from Thursday and fouling a pitch off his knee Tuesday, Bogaerts will take his place in the batting order.
Bogaerts is currently on a seven-game hit streak, but manager John Farrell said Ramirez is the team’s No. 3 hitter.
“Hanley is probably our three hole hitter, for the time being,” he said. “But, [Bogaerts] has been swinging the bat well, he’s had a number of quality at-bats for a period of time now. With Hanley out, Bogey I think the obvious choice to settled into that spot. Where we go going forward when we have a full complement of players, Bogey has been in the middle of a lot of our scoring opportunities.”
Bogaerts hasn’t hit higher than fifth in the order this season. Currently he’s batting .295, the third-best on the team behind Dustin Pedroia and Brock Holt.
“I would like to think the spot in the order doesn’t dictate what the hitter is going to do,” Farrell said. “Yes, we’d like to find combinations that work in tandem if possible. Once you get past the first time through the order, whether you’re in the three hole or the eight hole, that becomes a little irrelevant to be honest with you. Yeah, the higher up you’re going to get an additional at-bat each night. Bogey has done an excellent job of gradually coming along and being a steady performer to the point of a .300 hitter. He’s going to get added responsibility.”
— Craig Breslow has been placed on paternity leave, as he’s expecting twins. Heath Hembree has been recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to take his place.
— Farrell said Justin Masterson (right shoulder tendinitis) is physically able to pitch on Monday, but it is unclear where that will be. He said the two would meet before Friday’s game to map out a plan.
— Ryan Hanigan (fractured right hand) will take batting practice on the field Saturday for the first time. He’s on the 60-day disabled list and should be able to return right around the All-Star break.
|Red Sox designate Dan Butler for assignment to make room for Craig Breslow||01.07.15 at 11:12 am ET|
In the end, Drake Britton’s potential was too good to part ways with quite yet.
The decision always appeared like it would come down to either Butler or Britton. The case for keeping the catcher was that if something happened to Ryan Hanigan or Christian Vazquez early in the season, the former undrafted free agent out of the University of Arizona would be needed. Top prospect Blake Swihart is the only other catcher on the Red Sox‘ 40-man roster, and he wouldn’t seem to be a major league option until later in the season.
Britton also was out of options, meaning if he didn’t make the team in spring training he couldn’t be sent down to the minor leagues. Butler does have options.
But with the Red Sox needing another lefty in the bullpen, and with Britton bouncing back from a horrific minor league campaign in 2014 to impress in his seven outings with the Sox at the end of the year (6 2/3 innings, 5 hits, 0 runs), the value of the reliever was too much to part ways with quite yet.
Butler, who could re-sign with the Red Sox on a minor league deal, was one of the best Sox stories in ’14. The 28-year-old made his major league debut and appeared in seven games, hitting .211 with three doubles.
The Breslow announcement comes after the lefty agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal with the Red Sox on Dec. 19. The lefty passed his physical, which was taken Monday. (To read about how Breslow landed back with the Red Sox this offseason, click here.)
|What the Red Sox bullpen might look like||12.23.14 at 10:34 am ET|
Today we wrote about how the Red Sox priority has to be finishing off the construction of the bullpen. With some uncertainty involving the starting rotation, it would seem to make sense to have as good a read on the relievers heading into the season as possible.
So far, this is what we know …
— Koji Uehara will come in as closer.
— Edward Mujica (he had a 1.78 ERA in his 79 post-All-Star break appearances) will join Junichi Tazawa as the primary set-up men.
— If Craig Breslow‘s 2014 is, indeed, an aberration he also enters into that group.
— Brandon Workman should get every opportunity to become the factor he was at the end of 2013.
— Newly-acquired Anthony Varvaro almost certainly will be in the equation as a viable ground ball-inducer, heading to camp out of options.
That’s six. There would seem to be room for one more.
Last Opening Day, the only differences in the group was the presence of Burke Badenhop, Chris Capuano and Andrew Miller. (Breslow started the year on the disabled list)
While Varvaro might be viewed as a cheaper replacement for Badenhop (although the jack-of-all-trades free agent would seemingly still be valuable fit if re-signed), the Sox would seemingly be down one lefty. There are still free agent options (Phil Coke, Neal Cotts, Joe Beimel among them).
But this might be a spot the Sox look to fix with an internal option. For this very reason, the Drake Britton vs. Tommy Layne camp competition will be something to watch. If Britton impresses to the level which he did until the very end of spring training last year, he would certainly have the upper-hand considering the 25 year old is out of options.
(As a quick aside, here are the players who are — or will be — on the 40-man roster and out of options: Varvaro, Britton, Breslow, Mujica and Daniel Nava.)
That would still seemingly leave one spot to find an impact arm, via promotion, trade or free agency. Matt Barnes might be an interesting option, although it is unclear if the Red Sox plan on continuing him down the road of a starter for the 2015 season. With options, the likes of Heath Hembree, Edwin Escobar and newly-acquired Zeke Spruill would have to separate themselves dramatically in camp to have a shot at opening with the big club.
Of the free agents, Badenhop might be the best option/fit, but one of an intriguing group just might slip through the cracks and add an unexpected element to this group…
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