Franklin Morales is somewhat of a forgotten man in the Red Sox’ bullpen. That might not be the case too much longer.
Morales’ health has prevented him from building on his solid 2012 season, but he’s now moving in the right direction and could carve out an important role. Morales pitched a perfect ninth inning in the Red Sox’ 5-1 win over the Yankees on Saturday, and we could begin to see the left-hander more frequently in the later innings, particularly when the club’s primary late-inning relievers aren’t available.
“He adds another dimension to our bullpen,” Farrell said Saturday. “Those innings where we need a strikeout, he’s got that capability if it’s a little bit of a dirty inning or someone’s got to come in and pick up a starter. He can be a huge boost to us going forward.”
Morales transitioned to a starter in 2012 and was one of Boston’s lone bright spots in the otherwise tumultuous Bobby Valentine era. Morales’ 2013 season didn’t get off the ground until late May, however, as the southpaw dealt with a bulging disk in his back. Then, after a shaky start to his season, Morales landed back on the shelf with a pectoral issue.
Morales appears to be healthy now, though. He has five scoreless outings this month, during which he has shown improved control, and it sounds like Farrell is willing to give him a chance to prove himself over the final couple of weeks of the regular season.
“It’s extremely important,” Farrell said of Morales’ improvement. “I think his last seven or eight times out, we’re seeing consistent velocity with what he’s pitched with the last couple of years. He’s had a hit-and-miss year this year from a health standpoint. That’s behind him, and to see the power with which he’s throwing with, that’s encouraging.”
Morales was stretched out earlier in the year, as he was expected to serve as a spot starter. Now that the Red Sox have good rotational depth, Morales will serve as a middle relief option and could see more high-leverage situations if he continues down the current path.
“The increase in stuff clearly has put him into the position he’s in right now,” Farrell said Saturday.
The Red Sox lost a lefty capable of generating swings and misses when Andrew Miller went down with a season-ending foot injury earlier in the year. Morales might be able to serve in a similar capacity.