Red Sox Prediction: Alexi Ogando Won’t Pitch For Fenway in 2016


The Boston Red Sox play in Fenway Park, a beloved and historical monument of baseball’s past. In the age of stadium construction being the new black, the Fenway faithful continue to worship at the cathedral of Boston with no desire to see the place go. Millions of dollars have been spent on renovating Fenway Park to provide the patrons with modern conveniences without taking the nostalgia away.

But, something has to give between the building and relief pitcher Alexi Ogando.

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The man has become a human launching pad for opposing batters, crushing home runs off of his pitches. At present, Ogando is second in the majors in relievers allowing home runs, with 12 to his credit. Only Evan Scribner of the Oakland Athletics is ahead of him, with 14. To put that figure into perspective, take Rick Porcello. The starting pitcher has been well documented as having a terrible season, until more recent appearances. In 137 innings, so far, Porcello has allowed 23 home runs. Ogando has only pitched 58.2 innings. That means, while Porcello gives up homers 17% of the time, Ogando gives them up at a rate of 20%.

A reliever should never be giving up more home runs than a starter. The reliever doesn’t play as many innings, so the starter should have more of a chance to give up a long ball. That is not the case with the rate at which Ogando is giving up homers. If he were to play the same amount of innings, he would surpass the starters on the team.

At home, Ogando has posted a 4.41 ERA, and has a 3.81 ERA in away games. Eight of his home runs have been in Fenway, allowing 29 hits and 16 earned runs in 32.2 innings. Oddly enough, between 2012 and 2014, before Ogando was brought to Boston this season, his numbers were much different. In that span, Ogando allowed only one homer, four hits, and three earned runs in 10.2 innings as an opposing pitcher in Fenway Park. Is it the jersey or something?

With the score close late in games, Ogando has allowed four home runs, hit two batters, and walked nine batters. That’s both home and away. His .286 opposing batting average in those situations has silenced the home crowd in Boston and has charged the home crowds on the road.

Sep 8, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Alexi Ogando (41) reacts after giving up a run on a balk against the Toronto Blue Jays during the tenth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

A perfect example was the last loss that the Red Sox suffered two nights ago. With the mighty Toronto Blue Jays in town, prospect Henry Owens pitched a great game and handed the ball over to the bullpen mid-way through a 1-1 tie. It was only in the end of the game that Ogando was asked to hold off the Jays’ Mount Crushmore of a lineup, in which Ogando allowed four earned runs on three hits, a walk, a strikeout, a balk, and a wild pitch. No home run that night for Ogando, but he did everything else wrong to make up for it.

With all of the attention in Boston being on how they likely need a new starting pitcher, preferably an ace, the bullpen has been overlooked. Red Sox closer Koji Uehara is 40 years old, and not getting any younger after fracturing his wrist earlier in the season. The Red Sox are ninth in the majors for blown saves, 20th in save percentage, seventh in allowing home runs, fifth in hitting batters, and in first place for having 69 wild pitches. Much of those results has been due to the bullpen.

The Red Sox, and their fans, need more reassurance that, when the starters pass the ball to the bullpen, the relievers can hold the opposing team at bay and keep them in the game. In a place like Fenway Park, where the Green Monster serves up like a basketball backboard to carom hits off of and drive outfielders crazy, the team cannot afford a reliever like Ogando to serve up the ball so easily. The fences in Fenway are so close, being one of the smaller MLB ballparks, it has become commonplace to see Ogando throw a beachball of a pitch to some of the biggest hitters in the American League for home runs. He has four blown saves in four save opportunities; when will it be enough?

Don’t expect Ogando to pitch in relief very often for the Red Sox, next season. With a new winning attitude required, if not demanded by Red Sox Nation, Boston will need to find more help for the bullpen, not just the starting rotation. If Joe Kelly is converted into a reliever, or someone else is brought into the fold, Ogando will either ride the pine of the bench in Fenway Park or for another team for a very long time.

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