Andrew Bailey Has Golden Opportunity to Audition for Closer’s Role As Joel Hanrahan Battles Hamstring Issue

Andrew Bailey MailbagA lot has happened since the last mailbag.

The Red Sox experienced their first major hiccups of 2013 when they dropped back-to-back contests to the Orioles. They’ve since bounced back, though, notching two wins against the Rays — one being a walk-off and the other almost including a no-hitter from Clay Buchholz.

Let’s not forget Boston’s current closer situation, either. Things have suddenly gotten very interesting in the wake of Joel Hanrahan tweaking his hamstring and pitching ineffectively.

In fact, the closer’s situation was one topic tossed into this week’s bag o’ mail. It was hardly the only one, however, so let’s see what was on your minds this week.

If Daniel Nava is so hot, why not send down Jackie Bradley Jr. since he’s not playing every day?
— Vatsal Khatri, via Facebook

Jackie Bradley Jr. will in all likelihood head down to Triple-A once David Ortiz returns. Since that appears to be right around the corner, the Red Sox might as well wait until then. After all, Bradley is still getting at-bats — albeit less than anticipated now that he’s struggling — and his defense is still an asset.

Ortiz could return as soon as Friday or Saturday, so even if Bradley isn’t in the lineup every day between now and then, I don’t think it will create any sort of major setback in the rookie’s development. If Ortiz was farther away from returning, though, then I think the Red Sox would absolutely have to consider sending Bradley down immediately.

Why didn’t the Red Sox try to get Kyle Lohse?
— Michael Striewski, via Facebook

Kyle Lohse is solid big league pitcher, and we’re already seeing that through his first two outings this season. But given the financial commitment of signing him, the draft pick compensation (second-round pick) the Red Sox would have had to surrender to sign him and his history in the American League, I really don’t think it was a good fit.

Lohse had an excellent 2012, but his track record isn’t exactly flawless. He was a rather mediocre starting pitcher before 2011, in fact. He had a 15-win season with the Cardinals in 2008, but other than that, he was relatively ineffective at times.

During parts of six seasons with the Twins — which ranged from 2001 to 2006 — Lohse went 51-57 with a 4.88 ERA in 172 appearances (152 starts). Even though he is a much better pitcher now, that’s still a bit alarming, especially given the number of pitchers who have failed to make a smooth transition from the NL to the AL. Also keep in mind that Lohse is 34 years old, so it’s realistic to think he’ll trend downward during the life of the three-year contract he just signed with Milwaukee.

None of this even factors in the Red Sox’ current starting pitching situation. If you ask me, the Sox look like they’re in pretty good shape. Lohse would have been a luxury — and an expensive one at that.

What considerations were made when Jonathan Papelbon left Boston?
— Boston Brew, via Facebook

I’m sure the Red Sox considered a lot of things before deciding not to re-sign Jonathan Papelbon, with money being at the top of the list. I don’t agree with giving closers big, long-term deals, so I don’t blame the Red Sox one bit for letting Papelbon walk.

Where do babies come from?
— Eric Bam, via Facebook

The stork.

Do you think the Red Sox will make Andrew Bailey the closer?
— Jon Whalen, via Facebook

If you had asked me this question a week ago, I would have told you to be patient. After the weekend’s developments, though, I wouldn’t be shocked if Bailey takes over the closer’s role at some point.

Joel Hanrahan has obviously struggled out of the gate, but I still think it’s unfair to suddenly assume he’s incapable of being Boston’s closer. With that being said, Bailey has an opportunity to seize the job if he pitches well in Hanrahan’s absence.

Manager John Farrell said Hanrahan is “day-to-day” with a hamstring issue, so it’s unclear exactly how long he’ll be out. But if Hanrahan misses a week or so, and Bailey comes in and shuts the door in a few instances, it’ll be hard for Farrell to go away from what’s working.

Plus, a few things make me believe Farrell isn’t opposed to making such a change. While the Red Sox skipper kept saying initially that Hanrahan was the Red Sox’ closer, he seems to be a little less emphatic when discussing the situation now. Prior to Sunday’s game, Farrell was noncommittal about whether he’d consider pitching Hanrahan in a different role while the right-hander gets his legs under him.

I also can’t get over the move that Farrell made on Saturday, when he lifted Hanrahan in the middle of the ninth inning in favor of Koji Uehara. Knowing what we know now, perhaps Farrell was erring on the side of caution a bit given Hanrahan’s hamstring issue. He might have also been hammering home a bigger point, though — that being that he’ll ride the hot hand in the ninth inning regardless of who it is.

Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here

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