Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
There's no secret to the struggles of erstwhile closer Andrew Bailey, who has given up far too many home runs, which some might say was predictable given his fly-ball tendencies.
While Bailey's pitching style garnered solid results in Oakland's spacious stadium, it has gotten him into significant trouble in tiny Fenway Park this season.
Bailey's 2.42 HR/9 rate is well above his career average of 0.84, and his HR/FB ratio is an eye-popping 21.2 percent for fifth-worst among American League relievers.
Since being removed from the closer role, Bailey has given up just two hits and one earned run, albeit off of another home run. Still, the Sox didn't trade for a middle reliever, so they'll probably give Bailey every chance to reclaim the closer role.
Unfortunately, he's already done significant damage to the bullpen's long-term health by stretching out other relievers to atone for his mistakes. Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara have both battled fatigue at various stretches of the season, and we're barely more than halfway through the season. It is fair to wonder if either will have anything left if the Sox make it into October.
A look at Bailey's fastball velocity doesn't suggest any decline, although that's been by far his weakest pitch. That brings his struggles back to the initial point—what if his fly-ball tendencies are simply unsuitable for Fenway Park?
That seems like a flimsy excuse, given the successes of previous fly-ball pitchers like Curt Schilling and Tim Wakefield.
Nevertheless, it's hard to explain Bailey's struggles any other way, unless he is perhaps still suffering from the biceps injury that sent him to the DL earlier this season. If Bailey cannot help stabilize the back end of the bullpen, that could be the Achilles' heel that sinks the Sox's dreams.