In the seventh, down 10-0? There's a spot to test out Justin Thomas, not in a close game. (Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE)
You might have been upset last night when, with men on base and the Red Sox down by just two runs in the sixth, it was Justin Thomas who got the call from the bullpen. Justin Thomas, who is mostly on the roster due to Andrew Bailey's absence and the fact the team decided to carry 13 pitchers rather than the customary 12 to start the year. Justin Thomas, who has managed to compile just 18 innings in the majors since he first debuted in 2008.
The bullpen was overworked during the weekend, sure, but on Monday, it was just Scott Atchison and one inning of Alfredo Aceves that worked in relief. The rest of the pen, except for maybe Vicente Padilla, who worked four innings Sunday, should have been available for the slot that Thomas ended up working. You won't just hear me saying that, though, as manager Bobby Valentine, who made the decision, agrees:
"I should have brought in Albers with the bases loaded. It might have still been a 3-1 game," Valentine said. "We get a great ground ball there and maybe we would have won that game."
So why didn't Valentine bring in Albers?
"Just a dumb move," Valentine said.
Later in the interview, Valentine expounded a little more on his reasoning.
"I didn't know him well enough," Valentine said. "I thought maybe he'd get a changeup and maybe the changeup would be just as good as the sinker. He got a changeup, hit it off the end of the bat.
Thomas probably doesn't want to hear that it was a "dumb move" as much as Valentine dislikes admitting he screwed up. It is nice we get to hear the reasoning behind the decision -- and not have Valentine defend himself for going with the lower-probability outcome -- although it would have been nicer if Albers had just come in. Daniel Bard's ERA shot up thanks to Thomas, as well, as the latter allowed both inherited runners to score, jumping Bard from five-plus innings and three runs to five runs allowed.
Thomas hasn't pitched enough to say he's pitched poorly this season, but given his track record and uninspiring minor-league numbers, he won't get much of a chance to show us he's anything but filler. The fact he's likely filler is just one more reason why it shouldn't have been him pitching in that situation, but at least Valentine admits as much.