Andrew Bailey’s latest quote shows how quickly Red Sox revamped pitching staff in 2024

Boston Red Sox v Seattle Mariners
Boston Red Sox v Seattle Mariners / Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

The Boston Red Sox's pitching staff was the biggest story of the team's offseason. The buzz around the pitchers has continued into the start of the season, but for a different reason.

The Red Sox pitching staff, the starters in particular, have garnered a lot of attention for the quality of their outings so far. Boston's pitchers have the lowest ERA in the major leagues at 1.60.

There has been a stark change in the quality of the Red Sox's pitching despite the team carrying most of the same players as last year. The change can likely be attributed to Boston's new pitching coach, Andrew Bailey.

Bailey believed that some of the Red Sox starters weren't playing to their strengths. Some of them have elite fastballs, others did not. So they stopped throwing as many. And batters were confused.

Andrew Bailey's pitching philosophies are helping the Red Sox play to their strengths

Tanner Houck didn't throw a single four-seam fastball in his 10 strikeout performance against the Athletics on April 1. The Mariners, the Red Sox's first opponent of the 2024 campaign, had a high success rate against fastballs in 2023, so Bailey had his staff adjust.

“We speak a lot about the fastball in general being a jab and equating that to boxing,” Bailey said to Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic. “If you’re going 12 rounds or eight rounds, you’re not going to win by throwing jabs the whole time. The damage is done by throwing your haymakers in your best sequences. Jabs need to be located supremely to do any damage."

Bailey's analogy makes sense — fastballs are generally easier to hit and mistakes happen often on the mound. Breaking pitches are more unpredictable and generate more swings and misses.

By the time Garrett Whitlock's start rolled around in Seattle, the Mariners were used to seeing Boston's breaking pitches and Whitlock got knocked around to begin the game. Soon after, he and catcher Reese McGuire changed pace and Whitlock began to throw his sinker. He stymied the Mariners' bats again by doing something he already knew how to do and by being unpredictable, two of Bailey's signature lessons.

It's dangerous to jump to conclusions just a few games into the season. The Red Sox's staff looks good, but opponents may catch on to Boston's strategy.

So far, Bailey's methods are working. They're tried and true — he's shaped a few Cy Young award winners in his time. If Boston's pitching staff continues throwing strikes and staving off runs at its current pace, it may be fair to call Bailey a miracle worker.

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