Alan Embree Facing Uphill Battle to Displace Scott Schoeneweis in Bullpen


Apr 15, 2010

Alan Embree Facing Uphill Battle to Displace Scott Schoeneweis in Bullpen Despite the ability to opt out of his contract on April 15, left-handed reliever Alan Embree has reportedly opted to stay with the Red Sox, according to The Boston Globe.

This news means that Embree is likely to stay with Triple-A Pawtucket through the end of the month as the club continues to evaluate his readiness to help the big league squad.

In 3 1/3 innings for Pawtucket so far, Embree has coughed up two hits and five walks en route to allowing three runs. He has also struck out three batters and holds an ERA of 8.10.

The Red Sox may need Embree's help eventually, as Boston's ERA of 4.84 currently ranks 18th in the major leagues. The lack of success experienced by some of the arms in the bullpen indicates that help may be needed sooner rather than later.

Unfortunately for Embree, however, he's left-handed, and Boston's two left-handers in the bullpen are among the strongest performers for the team to date.

Hideki Okajima, who is in no danger of losing his job, is beginning his fourth season with the club. He's been one of the best setup men in that time and is off to another great start.

The other lefty in the bullpen is, like Embree, a late spring training arrival. Scott Schoeneweis hopped on board after the Milwaukee Brewers felt he didn't have anything to offer them.

While Schoeneweis' ERA is an unsightly 7.36, it doesn't accurately depict the job the bearded man has done for the Red Sox — especially since you can't rely on ERA as a reliable stat for a reliever in the early going.

Schoeneweis has thrown 3 2/3 innings on the season so far and has a remarkable six strikeouts with zero walks.

What hurts his ERA is the two-run bomb he gave up to Michael Cuddyer on Thursday, but it's safe to say that Schoeneweis only faced Cuddyer because the score was 6-0 at that point.

Cuddyer has long produced far better against left-handed pitchers than right-handed pitchers, typical of right-handed batters. His OPS is .853 against left-handers over his career, compared to .773 against righties.

Schoeneweis, as a left-handed pitcher, naturally performs better against lefties (.605 OPS allowed against lefties in his career with an unsightly .837 mark against righties). His role in Boston is that of a "lefty one-out guy" — LOOGY in baseball parlance. Essentially, his job is what Mike Myers' job was a few seasons past: Come in, get out a crucial left-hander at the plate and depart.

However, Myers was also left in to soak up innings in blowouts, and Schoeneweis is the same. In a close game, it's hard to imagine Schoeneweis being left in to face Cuddyer.

Aside from the mismatch Schoeneweis found himself in against Cuddyer, he's been nothing short of fantastic to this point.

While Embree could potentially displace another reliever, the reason he was brought to Boston was to fill the LOOGY role, one Schoeneweis has done more than capably. Unless Embree can find a way to curtail his walks and make a compelling case to replace Schoeneweis in the coming weeks, it looks like the homecoming for the setup man from the 2004 Red Sox championship team could end in Rhode Island.

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