Today has been a day of minor yet necessary acquisitions for the Red Sox, with the team bringing in a backup catcher in Ryan Hanigan this morning and now coming to terms on a 1 year/$2M contract with a much-needed left-handed reliever in Craig Breslow.
Breslow has been a member of the Red Sox bullpen since the trade deadline of the 2012 season, when he was acquired from the Diamondbacks, and has played a key role in Boston’s relief corps for the last two seasons. However, those two seasons have been completely opposite ends of the spectrum for Breslow, as Breslow followed arguably the best season of his career in 2013 with easily his worst year in 2014.
In 61 games in 2013, Breslow was a huge part of a successful Boston bullpen, posting a 1.81 ERA in 61 appearances, though peripherals such as his 3.60 FIP and his mediocre 5.0 K/9 suggested he could be in for some regression. However, nobody expected quite how severe that regression would turn out to be, as Breslow’s ERA ballooned to 5.96 in 2014 with his walk rate rose significantly (from 2.7 to 4.6) without an accompanying boost in strikeouts (from 5.0 to 6.1).
It’s hard to know what to expect from Breslow going forward, and frankly it’s surprising to see the Red Sox elect to bring him back to Boston. Breslow was well below average last season and peripherals (such as his 5.34 FIP last season) don’t suggest that he’s in for some drastic improvement. He’s currently the only left-hander certain to serve out of the bullpen next year, though Tommy Layne is a likely candidate as well, and it seemed that the Red Sox could look for some more clout in their lefty reliever role. However, for better or for worse, Breslow will be the man for the job on a low-risk contract.