The Red Sox should release Jeurys Familia
In Monday evening’s series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays, Familia entered for the seventh inning and quickly blew the Sox’ 24th save opportunity of the season. He also ruined Michael Wacha’s gem of a start, in which he struck out the 1,000th batter of his career.
While this was only Familia’s third blown save of the season and first with the Sox (he began the season with the Philadelphia Phillies), it hasn’t been smooth sailing since he joined the team. He’s allowed five runs, all earned, on nine hits in 9 1/3 innings. Opposing batters are hitting .257/.350/.400 against him.
It’s fair to wonder why manager Alex Cora went to him in such a high-leverage situation in the first place. Was every other pitcher tied up in the basement of the Trop or petting the rays in the centerfield tank?
The pitching staff is, admittedly, thin due to injuries; that’s why the Sox even signed Familia to a minor-league deal in the first place. But the depth or lack thereof does not seem so thin that he must be used in such a close game.
In general, there is absolutely no excuse for Familia remaining on this team. It is embarrassing that the Sox were even desperate enough to sign the Phillies’ cast-off. And now that they’re essentially out of the Wild Card race, there is no justification for continuing to carry this past-his-prime pitcher on the roster, let alone put him into a close game.
Familia is far from the team’s only or biggest issue this year, but he’s one of the few problems they can actually solve right now. The Sox could designate him for assignment and use his roster spot to get a look at a pitching prospect who could actually contribute next season: Frank German has a 2.72 ERA over 30 appearances in Triple-A, including 22 games finished and seven saves. Unlike Familia, he could be a key part of next year’s bullpen.
The Sox have a 0.9% chance at making the postseason, so accepting that this season is almost certainly over is realistic. But not getting proactive for next year when there’s no reason not to is utterly unacceptable.