Craig Breslow thankfully chooses Red Sox over Cubs


Last week, veteran southpaw reliever Craig Breslow agreed to terms on a one-year deal to return to the Boston Red Sox after reportedly narrowing his list of potential destinations to Boston and the Chicago Cubs.

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If you ask me, this was a disaster narrowly avoided.

Breslow is coming off the worst season of his nine-year big league career, in which he posted an unsightly 5.96 earned run average in 60 innings of work. Other measures of pitcher success failed to make his campaign look any better, with a 5.34 FIP, 1.859 WHIP and 4.6 BB/9 all to his credit, as well.

He started the season struggling in March and April before settling in to a relative amount of success in May and June when he pitched to a 3.75 and 2.79 ERA in 13 and 10 outings, respectively. In July, though, the wheels fell off for Breslow, whose earned run average (6.10), BAA (.349) and WHIP (1.742) all showed a deep flaw in his effectiveness.

Down the stretch, month-by-month made little difference to the 34-year-old Breslow, nor did his home field of Fenway Park. Home field advantage was non-existent for the southpaw, whose numbers were worse across the board in Boston (7.76 ERA, 2.172 WHIP, 1.06 SO/BB ratio) than when on the road (3.91 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, 1.80 SO/BB ratio).

Now, Boston general manager Ben Cherington believes that 2014 was an outlier in Breslow’s track record of success. Just one year prior, 2013, the southpaw had what could easily be considered the best season of his big league career, during which his 1.81 ERA set a new career-best. However, taking a chance on a big league deal after such a horrendous season – although feasible – isn’t likely to help support the Cubs’ revamped pitching staff that now includes the likes of Jon Lester and the returning Jason Hammel.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer do need to address the shortage of veteran southpaws on the staff heading into 2015, especially after letting Wesley Wright walk earlier this offseason. Currently, the team has just Zac Rosscup in the bullpen from the left side, with Felix Doubront, Tsuyoshi Wada and Travis Wood all vying for a spot in the starting rotation.

Adding a left-hander with big league experience is a must for the team to be successful, but taking a flyer on someone who is coming off the worst season of his career does nothing but bring uncertainty into the mix for a team on the cusp of breaking a losing tradition and becoming a contender in the National League Central.

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