The Boston Red Sox are not going to let Aaron Cook get away. Rob Bradford of WEEI is reporting that the team will call up the righty to pitch out of the bullpen. According toBradford, multiple teams were interested in Cook.
What role Cook will fill in the bullpen is still unclear. Also unknown is how the Red Sox will make room on the 40 man roster for him. The team will need to either move an injured player, most likely Carl Crawford to the 60 DL, or designate some one for assignment. The player most likely to be DFA would almost certainly be lefty reliever Justin Thomas, who was recently demoted to AAA. The lefty was ineffective in his 4 2/3 innings of work with the Red Sox with a 7.71 ERA allowing 10 hits and two walks in 25 batters faced.
The team cleared room on their 25 man roster yesterday by optioning Lars Anderson to AAA Pawtucket. The first baseman-turned left fielder was 1-8 in his brief time with the big league club.
Cook has not pitched in relief since 2003, when he was in his second year as a major leaguer. The most obvious role for him would be long relief, as he has been working as a starter in the minor and he would be a clear upgrade from current long man Scott Atchison. The Red Sox could also elect to use him in middle relief, an area that has been a major weakness thus far this year. Cook is ground ball specialist and as such, he doesn’t fit the typical profile of a late inning reliever.
However, Boston has seen that type of pitcher work as a closer in the past. Derek Lowe, who has a very similar pitching style to Cook was the team’s closer in from 1999-200. Lowe succeeded with essentially the same repertoire Cook will be using. As a closer, Lowe’s strikeout rates, typically around 5.5-6 K/9 as a starter, were in the 7-8 K/9 range. A similar rise in Cook’s punch outs could accompany this new role, but with just a 3.83 K/9 rate on his career, he is not likely to match Lowe in that respect.
Regardless of his role, Cook at least give manager Bobby Valentine one more option in his bullpen. That group has not inspired confidence with their league worst ERA and second worst FIP marks so far this year. Any new addition is a likely upgrade at this time. If Cook’s minor league success (1.89 ERA) is more than just a product of good luck, he could be a godsend to the wary relief corps.