Aceves' passion can be both his greatest asset and his worst enemy.
Boston Red Sox pitcher Alfredo Aceves had a miserable 2012 campaign, losing 10 games and posting a 5.36 ERA. The low-point of the season came in late August when he was suspended for three games for “conduct detrimental to the team.” Despite this transgression, it appears new manager John Farrell is willing to give Aceves another chance, which is a good thing because of how much value he can bring to Boston's pitching staff.
WEEI’s Alex Speier wrote about an interview Farrell did with the WEEI Red Sox Hot Stove Show, and mentioned the skipper had been in contact with Aceves about next year. Farrell explained, “I think the one thing we are going to hold ourselves accountable to is the way we play the game, the way we respect one another in uniform and that we work each night as a unit.”
Aceves’ talent is obvious. In 2011 he went 10-2 in 55 games (four starts) with a 2.61 ERA. His durability was a huge asset, as he threw 114 innings. On two different occasions that season he pitched three or more days in a row, including the final four games of the year as the team fought for a playoff spot.
Most pitchers tire when asked to work in consecutive games, but that doesn't appear to be the case with Aceves. There have been 37 times during his career he has pitched after appearing in the previous game, and he has excelled in those situations, going 5-2 with a 2.55 ERA.
After injured closer Andrew Bailey started the 2012 season on the disabled list, Aceves was given the ninth inning role. While he had 25 saves, his entire season was an adventure. He gave up a career-high 11 home runs and was constantly working with runners on base.
According to ESPNBoston’s Gordon Edes, Aceves was excited to assume the closer role after having been disappointed that he didn't claim a spot in the starting rotation that spring. His acting out later in the year may have been a result of his fiery competitiveness clashing with his less than optimal results.
Where can Aceves best help the 2013 Red Sox?
It has not been made clear what Aceves’ role will be in 2013. If healthy, Andrew Bailey is certain to be the closer, and while Aceves may prefer to start, his greatest value to the team may be in the bullpen. A lot will be determined by who is picked up during this offseason and what happens during spring training.
Farrell made it clear he’s not simply giving Aceves a clean slate, telling WEEI, “There are going to be some things that are non-negotiable. If certain situations arise, consequences may exist.”
If Aceves can keep his head on straight and embrace whatever assignment the Red Sox give him, he could be one of the most valuable pitchers on the staff. Only time will tell if he decides to behave or will create more drama.
Statistics via BaseballReference