Manny Delcarmen Must Regain Trust After Late-Season Flop

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Manny Delcarmen Must Regain Trust After Late-Season Flop Manny Delcarmen’s 2009 campaign won’t be remembered for his sub-3.00 ERA through the first four months of the season. Nor will his goose-egg ERA through his first 11 straight appearances be on the minds of even the most forgiving New England hot stovers this winter.

Delcarmen unraveled during the waning months of the 2009 summer and enters the offseason at Eric Gagne status.

Delcarmen’s local boy persona couldn’t get him through a spiraling second half last season, no matter how often or how loud Hyde Park natives sang his praises. After settling in as a sixth-, seventh- or eighth- inning menace for more than half of the season, Delcarmen unwound. The flamethrower’s heater flattened out in late July and quickly grew into a beach ball by August. By the time Boston was wrapping up its wild-card status, Delcarmen was officially unreliable.

Heading into 2010, the hurler will be deemed the same until he proves otherwise — if Theo Epstein and Terry Francona give him the shot, that is.

In Delcarmen’s final 24 appearances, the righty put together consistent shutout appearances just once — over a three-game stretch at the end of August, he gave up no runs in 3 1/3 innings. His final 22 innings weren’t pretty as the 27-year-old right-hander allowed 21 earned runs for an 8.59 ERA. Batters were hitting .301 in this stretch, and he issued just as many walks (17) as strikeouts.

The five-year veteran wasn’t just getting tagged by pesky left-handed hitters, either. Righties smacked him around at an intense clip. In 115 at-bats, righties hit .322 against him and launched four homers in 2009. This Red Sox team relies on top-of-the-line righties to shut down opposing right-handed sticks at the Fenway bandbox, and Delcarmen was unable to meet the challenge.

After his implosion, the bullpen soon followed, proving how much Delcarmen meant to this group. Previous automatic-outs Daniel Bard and Ramon Ramirez were shaky in the final months, and the ageless Takashi Saito stepped in as the lone reliable righty. With five arms making 50-plus relief appearances this season (Bard had 49), it’s apparent that the bullpen was overworked based on its late-season crash, but that’s no excuse for Delcarmen, who began his decline just 40 outings and 25 innings deep.

These aren’t the type of stats a big-market team wants out of a reliever, especially on a team chasing its rivals, the reigning champs.

Delcarmen might be a local fan favorite with life in his arm and a history of dependability, but he’s a long way off from getting the call in a big spot for the local nine next spring.

Can Delcarmen ever be trusted again?

He’s going to have regain that privilege.

NESN.com will be answering one Red Sox question every day in November.

Saturday, Nov. 7: Who is the ace of the staff?

Monday, Nov. 9: Who will be the glue guy?

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