Sep 12, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher
(59) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium. Boston won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Tommy Layne is probably the poster child for the LOOGY club. A man who exists for no other reason than to deal with left-handed hitters and at that, he’s successful. He’s so good at it, that he’s abjectly bad at the alternative. Imagine you keep calling your plumber to fix your electricity because you don’t know any good electricians. That’s the same thing as asking Layne to pitch to a right-hander. The answer may (will) shock you.
When Layne is used correctly, i.e. against left-handed hitters, he is dominant. Lefties hit only to the tune of .144/.248/.170 off him on the year, while he himself notched a sumptuous K/9 of 9.11 and a WHIP of 0.90 against southpaws. When Layne is used incorrectly, i.e. against right-handed hitters, he is dire. Righties flung the bat around with effortless ease, enjoying the unexpected and undeserved boost to their batting average as they rocked Layne with a hideous .318/.433/.517 line. Layne had a 2.10 WHIP against right-handers. It’s a wonder left-handed hitters didn’t decide to take a crack at switch-hitting when they saw Layne come up from the pen.
OK, so he’s not exactly the most flexible tool in the box, but what he does he does well. Well enough to be useful for Boston going forward, almost certainly. His fastball sits only at 90 MPH, but is full of life unlike the more pitching machine-esque efforts of say, Hembree. He also has a slider, cutter and changeup, with the slider providing a good deal of ever-so-awkward looking swings and misses.
Perhaps it’s reaching, but when you’re looking at a flaming dumpster fire of a bullpen such as that the Red Sox endured, you should attempt to salvage whatever can be put to use. Layne isn’t exciting, whether that be his fastball speed, his stat line against righties, his hairstyle or his role. But having a lefty specialist on board is useful and, if used correctly, could serve Boston well as they look to move forward in 2016.
In the end, there’s not that much salvageable for Dombrowski going into 2016 and perhaps that’s why it is his biggest challenge this offseason. Red Sox Nation will be relieved to see a return to health for Koji Uehara and hopefully a return to form for Junichi Tazawa, two of the best relievers in the game. Ultimately though, little else can found other than perhaps situational usage or to lighten the burden on either free agent signing or trading prospects.
Expect some big moves from Dombrowski this offseason but you may well be surprised to see some familiar faces there too. Or in the case of Heath Hembree, perhaps not so familiar at all.
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