Red Sox: Hector Velazquez should be replacing Doug Fister

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 14: Hector Velazquez
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 14: Hector Velazquez /

The Boston Red Sox have sent Doug Fister to the bullpen.  The deserving player for long relief is Hector Velazquez and he may soon return.

Doug Fister is reportedly a solid baseball professional who just a year ago I wrote as a potential trade target for the Red Sox playoff push.  Fister circa second half 2016 would have provided a degree of impetus that could catapult Boston into the second season with a serviceable arm out of the bullpen or spot starting. The Red Sox were a year too late.

Fister with the Red Sox is like the appendix – serving no useful purpose unless becoming an embarrassment while “saving the staff” has been suddenly raised to exalted status.  I shed no tears for Fister, who has earned $31 million playing baseball – a figure few of us will match unless we suddenly have Weimar Republic inflation.

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Fister’s time with Boston should be over.  Gone.  Done. A nice career that even has a 4-2 record in the playoffs. Boston has another option that should be taken advantage of and that is Hector Velazquez, who the Red Sox brought on board from the Mexican League.

Velazquez’s first start in Boston was one that was certainly forgettable as he allowed six earned runs in five innings against Oakland.  Most certainly a major league debut that Hector would blot out as a bad dream. Back to Pawtucket since that was the game plan with Velazquez, who was designated a pitching band-aid when the starters and bullpens are taxed.

My assumption was Velazquez was done and to be forgotten as another stopgap pitcher who would simply toil in the International League. A trivia question for the future. Not a Charlie Zink welcome to “The Show” performance, but close. Since then Hector has traveled I-95 a few times with some excellent results. The most notable was a four inning stint against the Jays in which Velazquez allowed only a lone hit and was honored with his second MLB win. His reward? Back to the PawSox.

Meanwhile, Fister goes to the bullpen and there must be some reasoning for getting knocked around like a club fighter against Ali and that does not bode well. For Velazquez, Pawtucket is rather enjoyable as the 28-year-old right-hander could be classified staff ace. Velazquez has 12 starts with a 6-1 record in 67 innings. The 1.48 ERA may be a tad misleading for proponents of FIP – Velazquez has a 3.20 FIP.

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Velazquez has one item that I respect and that is his 1.9 BB/9 while pitching for the gateway to Central Falls.  In his 17.2 innings for Boston, it is a 2.0 BB/9. The Boston sample is quite small, but in two relief appearances, Velazquez has allowed no runs in 7.1 innings.  That is quality, long relief.

Fister versus Velazquez is really what it comes down to. So far both have a relatively small sample in Boston, but what I do know is that Velazquez had one wretched start, one start quite passable start and two bullpen stints that were solid. For Fister, the numbers just do not call for any further use. Even Fister’s well-mentioned GB% is down and his control? Fister has a 6.2 BB/9 – and keeping that BB/9 was once his strong point.

The Red Sox have mentioned the rust factor with Fister, but looking at it statistically and watching it personally, it is more in the realm of lost ability. The Red Sox simply cannot afford to linger, waiting and praying to various baseball entities for a return to form for Fister.

On Monday Velazquez will take the mound in Toledo while Fister will continue with the Red Sox. Naturally, the Red Sox can yo-yo Velazquez due to circumstances and have, but when his latest “demotion” time has expired Hector should be returning north on I-95.

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For Fister, his redemption could take place on the swing out west. A strong performance or two could send doubters such as myself in search of other targets. If Fister fails the one solid internal move could be having Velazquez as a replacement.