Speaking on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM Tuesday, Red Sox manager John Farrell said with both Andrew Bailey (biceps) and Joel Hanrahan (forearm) out due to injury, Junichi Tazawa would step in as the team’s closer.
“I think what we’d love to do is close [Junichi] Tazawa,” Farrell said. “We’d keep Koji [Uehara] in that eighth inning role that he’s been in. We just got [Craig] Breslow back to us yesterday and before the game we put [Andrew] Bailey on the disabled list who had done a great job in the closing role as well. So fortunately we do have some depth to turn to internally and we know that we’ve got to get through these next couple of days to kind of regroup, because [we had] a couple of extra-inning games, we were in some tight games down in Texas, we have a starter check out early in the game where we’ve had to use the bullpen. So we’re kind of breathing a little thin ice down there right now and just trying to manage the best we can to get through these next couple of days to regroup.”
Asked why the choice was Tazawa instead of Uehara, Farrell said, “Well, the one thing I like about Koji is, typically, if you’re going to get those pinch hit left-handers in the eighth inning, he’s so effective against lefties. And you can point to a few guys around the league that are right-handers that are so effective against lefties, and Peralta down in Tampa is another one, Koji is obviously one for us. I think that’s where you might get a little bit of that gamesmanship or the matchup capability in that eighth inning. Both of them are very good strike throwers. They have very good command of their fastball, they’ve got a good secondary pitch, they control the running game, both of them, very effectively. Tazawa has a little bit more fastball which, whether I’m siding to the traditional approach with a little bit more power late in the game, that’s there. So, right now that’s the initial approach that we’d take to closing things out.”
Tazawa has pitched in a team-high 16 games this season, totaling a 2.51 ERA with opponents hitting .216 against the righty. (Uehara had an identical .216 opponents batting average in 15 appearances.)
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