Andrew Bailey believes run prevention is the key to a pitching staff’s success. He’s always drifted that way when considering the ways a team could record a win.
His philosophy will be put to the test next season as the Red Sox’ new pitching coach.
The Sox made Bailey’s hiring official Tuesday afternoon, filling the position of Dave Bush, who was fired. The Red Sox pitching staff struggled last season, and some of that was because of injuries, but there was also plenty of underperformance. The Sox yielded the 10th-most runs in baseball (776) and had the 10th-highest ERA (4.52).
Despite the task at hand, Bailey, who was one of the more highly coveted coaches on the market this offseason, always saw Boston as a perfect fit. He pitched for the Red Sox for parts of two seasons (2012-13) during his eight-year career. Bailey is a New Jersey native and wanted to get back to the Northeast so he could be closer to his family. Being in Boston will allow him that opportunity.
“I want to be the best husband, the best dad, and work in baseball,” Bailey said during his introductory news conference Tuesday afternoon. “Those are the three things I love in life.”
Bailey is also close friends with new chief baseball officer Craig Breslow, as the pair played together for parts of five seasons. Bailey comes with an impressive track record, steering the Giants’ staff for the last four seasons, and prior to that, the Angels’ for a season.
In San Francisco, he helped develop starter Logan Webb and revitalized the career of now-Blue Jays ace Kevin Gausman. The Giants ranked sixth in the big leagues in ERA (3.80) over those four seasons, while allowing the fewest home runs (525), and registered the third-best strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.16).
“Strike-throwing is everything,” said Bailey. “Stuff in the zone plays. Limiting walks. Being aggressive when ahead in the count.”
Bailey, who interviewed for the Yankees’ bench coach opening before being hired by the Red Sox, already has reached out to Chris Sale. The lefthander has struggled to stay healthy, and when healthy, has struggled to find success. Sale has made just 31 starts over the last three seasons, 20 of which came this year, when he registered a 4.30 ERA.
“I’m looking forward to grow that relationship and be alongside him for a really long time,” said Bailey. “He’s been around the game of baseball and has seen a lot of games through multiple lenses. I think our ability to have honest conversations — tell each other yes, tell each other no — and operate in a professional manner is great.”
Bailey raved about 24-year-old righthander Brayan Bello.
“He has potential to be a front-line starter,” said Bailey. “He’s had some really good games.”
In order for Bailey to get the most out of his starters, the Red Sox will have to acquire one or two more of them. What’s also true is that the Sox will have to develop starters, a struggle of the organization for close to 20 years.
“I believe that, philosophically speaking, players are never finished products,” said Bailey. “Whether you’re a confident starter or you’re up and down and kind of on the option train, so to say. I think if we ever are a little bit complacent in that, negativity can creep in and poor performance. But if we have a vision and we can execute on that vision, the goal is to have a lot more frontline starters, and a system that is feeding the major league team, for sure.”