SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 14: Relief pitcher Rich Hill #53 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 14 2010 in Seattle Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Per Nick Cafardo, the Red Sox have recalled left-handed reliever Rich Hill from Triple-A Pawtucket ten months after he was sidelined by Tommy John Surgery. Justin Thomas has been optioned to open up the roster spot.
It's been a long time since Hill threw those eight excellent innings for us, but the memory hasn't faded. With a curveball that has looked unhittable at times, Hill suddenly became our lefty hope out of the pen, only to be suddenly derailed by injury. Now, with the pen in a moribund state, Rich Hill makes a timely return. With luck, Tommy John and the long layoff won't have robbed him of his effectiveness.
Perhaps more importantly, Justin Thomas is gone from the team. If ever there's been addition through subtraction, it's John Lackey's trip to the disabled list last year. But this comes in a close second. Normally having a terrible seventh man in the pen is no big deal, since they'll just show up in mop-up scenarios when the most damage they can do is to force a real pitcher into the game or make a lost situation even worse.
With Thomas, however, Bobby Valentine seems to have found an odd, self-destructive binky. As Marc said yesterday:
Part of that is that is the lefties he's supposed to retire. They collectively own an 861 OPS against him, 61 percent worse than your average left-handed reliever facing his fellow southpaw. He's much better against lefties than righties in 2012. It might not be Bobby Valentine's fault that Thomas is on the roster right now -- he didn't injure all those other pitchers -- but Thomas' continued use in high-leverage situations would be laughable, were fans not busy seething with deserved rage at the very idea.
So, hey, seethe no more. Thomas is gone, Bobby V will have to put real pitchers in high-leverage situations, and we can all enjoy some less disastrous bullpen pitching.
That, or he can start putting Matt Albers in with the bases loaded and two outs in a one-run ninth. It's a toss-up.