Friday, April 27, 2012

Tazawa for the Save!

I've been saying for a while that Valentine that if wants to fix Boston's bullpen woes, he should start by giving Junichi Tazawa a more prominent role.

Before last night, Valentine had called on Tazawa only twice -- first on April 20, when the Sox were down 6-2 against the Yankees, and then the following night, when the Sox were down 15-9.  Traditionally, these would be the times to send in your worst reliever -- why waste a good arm when the game is going to be a loss?  But while the Yankees were taking batting practice of the rest of Boston's staff, Tazawa held them to 1-2/3 scoreless innings on April 20, following by 1-1/3 scoreless innings on April 21.

Last night, Tazawa got his first taste of pitching while in the lead -- he came in while Boston was beating the White Sox 9-3.  The end result?  3 scoreless innings, with 4 strikeouts.  Oh, and he got the save.

(Wait a second - how do you come in with the score 9-3, and still get the save?  Doesn't the lead have to be three runs or less?  Nope.  One can earn save by pitching at least three innings at the end of a game, regardless of the score.  Though I can't remember the last time I saw this happen.)

I have no idea what Valentine is up to.*  Having a relief pitcher throw three innings when there is absolutely no need?  Maybe he wanted to see what Tazawa has in him.  Maybe he thinks Tazawa could be the second coming of Alfredo Aceves.  In any case -- Tazawa put on a good show.  Now let's see if he'll get the ball when a game is actually close.

20110928-0441 Junichi Tazawa

*Update:  In Tazawa's own words:  "I found out afterward [about qualifying for a save]. It was probably better that I didn't know. I was relieved after shutting them down for two innings, and Bobby (Valentine) says to me in Japanese, 'Can you go another inning?', so I was a little surprised."


  1. I'm not sure anyone has any idea what BV is up to. He's made more curious pitching decisions - most notably, not having any relievers up warming up when the starter is getting visibly gassed - than I can remember Tito making in all of his years of service.

    Interesting note about the three-inning save. I had no clue, mainly because in this age of the highly-paid (and overrated IMO) closer this approach to the save seems to be few and far between.

  2. i was aware of tazawa only from the roster sheet, not having had much memory of or exposure to him. i guess he started a couple of games for the sox before having tommy john surgery. but 37 of 51 for strikes last night and a 0.00 era so far this year is just about the most promising pitching story we have going. let's hope the story continues!! (and the winning streak).