5 Dominoes That Could Fall When Andrew Bailey Returns to the Red Sox

Sean Delorge@@sdelorgeCorrespondent IIIJune 19, 2012

5 Dominoes That Could Fall When Andrew Bailey Returns to the Red Sox

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    With Andrew Bailey cleared to start throwing (per Boston.com) there will soon be changes made to the Boston Red Sox bullpen.

    Despite the fact that the bullpen has actually been much better than the starting rotation, they could surely use a midseason boost.

    That boost could come from Andrew Bailey.

    Bailey is an All-Star caliber closer when healthy—something the Red Sox don’t have.

    Even though Alfredo Aceves and the rest of the bullpen have held it together without Bailey, several dominoes will fall when Bailey returns.

    Here are five potential moves that could happen when Bailey returns from his thumb injury.

Clayton Mortensen Gets Demoted Back to the Minors

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    Clayton Mortensen got called up in May and pitched great in three outings.

    The 27-year-old that came over in the Marco Scutaro trade was sent down for no fault of his own.

    Mortensen compiled 12 strikeouts in just 9-and-one-third innings and allowed one run during the three appearances.

    However, even though he was just called up for the second time on June 16, Mortensen will likely be the odd man out, unless Mark Melancon falls apart.

Mark Melancon Goes Back to AAA

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    After an awful start to his Red Sox career, Mark Melancon regained his fastball control in Pawtucket and proved that he deserves a second chance.

    In 21 games at AAA Pawtucket, Melancon posted an impressive 0.83 ERA—and more importantly, a 9/1 SO/BB ratio (per BaseballReference.com).

    If Melancon can maintain his control and be as dominant as he was in AAA when he struck out 27 batters in just 21-and-two-third innings, it will be hard for the Red Sox to send him back to AAA.

    However, if Melancon loses control again like he did at the beginning of the year, the Red Sox will be forced to send him back down.

Daniel Bard Stays in AAA

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    While Daniel Bard wants to be a starter, it looks like he is better off coming out of the bullpen on a regular basis.

    The Red Sox hope that he can regain his dominating fastball/slider combination that he showed in 2010 and 2011, but until he proves that he is under control, he will stay in AAA.

    With Andrew Bailey returning, Bard would have to be lights out in order to return. The rest of the bullpen has been fairly reliable, and Bobby Valentine will prefer consistency to the unknown.

    Even though Bard may be the most talented option, unless he is able to command his pitches, it will be hard to earn a spot on the big league roster until they expand from 25 to 40 man rosters in September.

Alfredo Aceves Become the Setup Man

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    While this may be the most obvious change, it is the most beneficial for the Red Sox.

    Though Aceves has been better than expected as the team’s closer, he has shown signs of fatigue and he may perform better when the pressure is reduced in the eighth inning.

    When Bailey returns as the closer, the bullpen depth will improve and Aceves won’t have to pitch more than one inning at a time—something he has done six times in 32 appearances.

Someone Will Get a Mystery Injury

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    Though the bullpen has been great to this point, someone needs to either go on the DL or get sent down to AAA to make room for Andrew Bailey when he returns.

    Even though everyone seems healthy, don’t be surprised if someone pulls a lat muscle, suffers from shoulder stiffness and goes on the DL.

    Not only will this make room for Bailey, but it will allow the team to give one (or possibly two) relievers rest so that they can return during the stretch run and help the team push for a playoff spot.