Bailey started the year as a set-up man for Joel Hanrahan, but after Hanrahan blew up and went on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, Bailey has stepped in and been fantastic. When Hanrahan first went down, he was among a few speculative sources for saves including Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa. Those who nabbed Bailey, however, have been rewarded with a glimpse of what the Red Sox thought they would be acquiring last off-season.
Acquired from the Oakland Athletics for Josh Reddick before the 2012 season, Bailey was unable to pitch until mid-August thanks to thumb surgery. When he returned he wasn’t effective and gave up 12 earned runs in 15.1 innings pitched.
The Bailey fantasy owners are seeing now most resembles the 2009 Rookie of the Year for the A’s who saved 26 games with 91 strikeouts and a 1.84 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. After that season, however, the injury troubles started again for Bailey, who had Tommy John Surgery in college. In 2010 and 2011 he combined to throw a total of just 90 innings due to bone chips in his elbow. He had surgery after the 2010 season but still dealt with elbow and forearm issues in 2011 that kept him out until late May.
Now evidently healthy, Bailey is missing bats at a tremendous rate early in the year with a top-flight swinging-strike percentage of 14.8 percent. He is averaging 14.81 strikeouts per nine early in the year, and while that is likely not sustainable, he can certainly repeat his 2009 rate of 9.83.
The way Bailey has pitched, he may be able to hold onto the closers role even when Hanrahan returns, though manager John Farrell may want Bailey in more high-pressured eighth inning situations. For now, it’s anyone’s guess and all owners can do is enjoy what they are getting from Bailey and just hold out hope that he can continue to rack up saves all season.