Home > Game Recaps, MLB > Red Sox Game 4 recap: Edward Mujica is the Red Sox’ closer

Red Sox Game 4 recap: Edward Mujica is the Red Sox’ closer

Oh, right, we link to things too.


Highest WPA: Xander Bogaerts, .427 (4-8, BB, R, started game-ending double play, is the greatest man to ever live and definitely not a bust)
Lowest WPA: Edward Mujica, -.322 (IP, H, ER, K, HR)


With Koji Uehara hurt, the Red Sox needed a closer. Sure, they could have gone with the unconventional approach of using a pseudo-platoon or something, but I can’t really get too bent out of shape about the decision that they needed to have A Closer. What I can get bent out of shape about, and will proceed to now, is the decision to give that job to Edward Mujica.


Mujica, of course, was signed to a two-year contract after the 2013 season. The hope was that he would rebound from a year that ended with him playing the role of mascot in the Cardinals’ bullpen, having flamed out so disastrously that he lost not only the closer’s job, but seemingly any semblance of pitching talent whatsoever. He responded by posting his worst ERA since 2009, a 3.90 mark that was only that good because of a pretty good second half when exactly nothing he (or anyone else on the Red Sox) did mattered.


We can go back and forth forever about whether or not Mujica is terrible, or merely bad, or even not-great. The point is that, no matter how you rate Mujica, you can’t even pretend that Junichi Tazawa isn’t better. Tazawa strikes out more batters than Mujica–about three more per nine innings, actually. He walks about the same number. He allows fewer home runs. He is, by just about every measure, a superior pitcher, and he has been for some time. There’s really only one thing Mujica has that Tazawa lacks: Saves.


Aaron Gleeman is far from the only writer to notice this, but he’s the one who points it out the most: The biggest qualification to be a closer, bigger than strikeouts or velocity or even the famed “closer’s mentality,” is to have been a closer before. Mujica has been a closer before–never mind that it was for one season, two years ago, and ended disastrously–and Tazawa hasn’t. Therefore, naturally, Mujica is the best choice for the Red Sox to use as their closer now.


Of course, if Tazawa was the closer, Mujica would probably have just given up a home run in the eighth. Unless you want to get really crazy and say that the Red Sox could have a bullpen with Justin Masterson and Jonathan Papelbon in it–which, incidentally, they could totally have done if John Henry valued winning more than he values money*.


* Signing Jon Lester, which would only have cost money, plus acquiring Cole Hamels and Papelbon, which would cost money and a lottery ticket or three, would have moved the Red Sox from “could well be out of it come the trading deadline” to “indisputable favorites to win the American League pennant.” But that wouldn’t be efficient, or something. Liverpool needs a new left winger. What I’m saying is that I wish every baseball team was run like the 1990s Yankees, because the 1990s Yankees won and winning is better than losing. This is a controversial position, somehow.


None of this is new. John Farrell is not a unique and special breed of horrible for using the “proven veteran” as his closer even though he’s clearly not the best reliever. John Henry is not a special kind of miserly for saying that he wants to make infinity dollars off the Red Sox rather than infinity minus 50 million. That’s just the way baseball is these days.


Anyway, I wrote all that after the ninth inning. Then a thousand more innings happened and Papi hit a homer but then Teixeira hit a homer and the Red Sox scored again and the Yankees scored again and a thousand more innings happened and eventually the Red Sox scored AGAIN and won. Cool. They play again in eleven hours, which is less cool, and Joe Kelly’s pitching, which is awful. But hey, 3-1!

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