The Red Sox have decided to shut down relief pitcher Junichi Tazawa for the remainder of the 2015 season after a rough couple of months.
Tazawa has seen his ERA rise dramatically since the end of July. Entering the month at 2.60, Tazawa allowed two runs in his first two appearances in August, and has since had four-run disaster outings against Kansas City and Tampa Bay, leaving him with a mark of 4.14. He's blown five saves in that period in just 15 appearances.
That Tazawa is struggling now perhaps has to do with the workload he's endured these past few years, where he's often been far-and-away second best option in the pen behind closer Koji Uehara. As such, Tazawa was basically the go-to option in any situation where the Red Sox were in desperate need of outs before the ninth. Frankly, he's also had his fair share of start-and-stop sessions warming up in the bullpen before John Farrell decided he wasn't needed after all. It's been one of Farrell's worst habits as a manager, and we might be seeing the negative impact of that now.
The Red Sox, of course, are already in serious need of bullpen help heading into 2016. Their relief corps' ERA of 4.36 is one of the five worst in the major leagues, and really once you're past Uehara and Tazawa, it's not clear that there's anyone else currently with the team who can be counted on to fill a role next season. Now imagine that minus Tazawa, and it's clear why the Red Sox have no interest in risking their setup man anymore than they already have in this lost season.
As for the rest of the 2015 season, Torey Lovullo will just have to make due with the ragtag bunch he has now that rosters have expanded. There's plenty of names around. They just might not be any good.