The second piece in the Jake Peavy trade will join the Red Sox, as right-handed reliever Brayan Villarreal was recalled by Boston on Monday, with Rubby De La Rosa optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room. Alex Speier, who earlier on Monday reported that a reliever was incoming, reported this transaction at WEEI.
Don't look at Villarreal's 2013 stats to get a sense of him: he's thrown just 4-1/3 innings in the majors, and they were horrific. In 2012, though, he was more than serviceable, with a 2.63 ERA and nearly 11 strikeouts per nine innings. There are some issues here -- he walks too many batters, and even his time at Triple-A this season was a bit rough on the edges. There's also potential, though, some of which he's already shown in the past. If the Sox can tweak him enough to get him back to something resembling what he used to be, they'll have themselves a useful relief piece that's under team control for most of the rest of this decade.
Villarreal averaged 96-97 miles per hour on his two heaters last season, and is very much a fastball/slider guy out of the pen. Lefties have him hit him well, but if he can get out right-handed batters with consistency, the Sox will find a use for him, especially in situations where they don't want a ball to be put in play. Like with Andrew Miller, there will be more walks than you'd like, but if it's all swings and misses otherwise, there will be spots for him to succeed.
With the way the Boston bullpen is setup, Villarreal is unlikely to see high-leverage innings, as those are the property of Junichi Tazawa and Brandon Workman. Instead, expect to see Villarreal picking up chances in low-leverage spots as the Red Sox familiarize themselves with their newest relief piece -- if he can rebound from his horrible start, maybe he'll pitch in an important spot down the road. For now, though, baby steps are likely.
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