Red Sox bullpen help: The Pawtucket option

Feb 28, 2016; Lee County, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Pat Light (78) poses for a portrait during photo day at Jet Blue Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 28, 2016; Lee County, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Pat Light (78) poses for a portrait during photo day at Jet Blue Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

Red Sox bullpen help may just be a scenic ride down I-95 to look at Pat Light and Anthony Varvaro.

Monday was an off day for the Boston Red Sox as they traveled to San Francisco to play the Giants, but another baseball option existed thanks to NESN and a broadcast of a game between the PawSox and Toledo Mud Hens from Pawtucket – gateway to Central Falls.

I have been lapse about my visits to Pawtucket – a mere 40 miles away – and I had a certain degree of curiosity at the performance of one particular player – Henry Owens. Owens is still attempting to use his GPS to locate home plate and did manage to issue only three walks in his 5.2 innings, but of other interest was Anthony Varvaro and Pat Light – two pitchers I have been somewhat dismissive of.

Varvaro was acquired from Atlanta a few seasons back and with the Braves the now 30-year-old right-hander had some decent numbers working out of the bullpen. I did a cursory scan of the four Atlanta years to refresh by fast fading brain cells and was moderately impressed – A 2.99 ERA, WHIP of 1.20, FIP of 3.54 and a slightly elevated BB/9 of 3.1. My personal warning sign is anything over 3.0 on a BB/9.

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Varvaro lasted in Boston about as long as a pint of Haagen Daz does in my house before taking the full count of ten and gone for the season thanks to some injury miseries. Varvaro had done little to impress, as the numbers did not exactly shine in his nine Boston games. Gone and generally forgotten.

Varvaro came to spring training and issued three walks in eight innings and matched that by also issuing three home runs and compiling a forgettable 5.63 ERA in 10 games. That usually means a ticket to the other side of the tracks or camp and a minor league assignment.

The pitcher I saw came in for relief of Owens was Varvaro, who looked just fine in 2.1 innings of work with three strikeouts, eventually getting the win. I looked at his MLB FanGraph numbers and saw the same – a mix of fastball, curve and change. The FB appeared rather lively and the control was certainly present. The speed reached into – as it had in MLB – the low 90s.

The Pawtucket stats are attention getting with a 2.45 ERA and 29 K’s in 25.2 innings pitched. The walks are 10, so some things never change. Varvaro has also been a multiple inning guy, so that can ease any bullpen situation. Varavro may just be worth a look a some point.

Light got the save and was doing what he does exceedingly well – throw the sphere hard, and I do mean hard. Light’s lone and very forgettable Boston visit showed that with a 96.5 MPH – a tad slow by his usual standards.

Light has the affliction that seems so prevalent among our pitchers and that is walks – a disgusting aberration for me. At Pawtucket the walks are now 4.87 per nine innings for Mr. Light. If one wishes some solace in good news it is batters are checking in at .182 and home runs are not flying out off his fastball with just one in 20.1 innings.

If I was one to wager, the chances of either being a dramatic impact on Boston for 2016 would be virtually nil, but you never know when a sudden need arises and a player suddenly gets it. Case in point is I had virtually consigned Heath Hembree to the baseball scrap yard and now he is a valuable contributor.

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The Red Sox may see both in September when rosters expand to some ungodly number and that could be a chance to impress, but if they arrive before then it may mean a failure to acquire bullpen help or some unfortunate injuries.

Sources: FanGraphs