Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 02: Brayan Bello #66 of the Boston Red Sox pitches during the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Coliseum on April 02, 2024 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

Pitching coach Andrew Bailey and the Red Sox’ new pitching philosophy is being celebrated. Last night, it failed Brayan Bello.

In case you missed it, Bailey was the prettiest girl at the dance following the Red Sox season-opening series at Seattle – and then again after Tanner Houck and the Red Sox defeated Oakland by a 9-0 score on Monday. Bailey and the Red Sox’ new pitching philosophy were getting a great deal of love for how they pitched in the first five games with a new strategy that Bailey nicely summed up.

“I think if you look at the history of baseball, fastballs for the longest time, get hit the hardest,” Bailey told the media before the opener in Oakland. “They have the most damage attached to them, year in and year out. It doesn’t matter who you are. Obviously, there’s some unicorn fastballs out there, but we just want our guys to stick to their strengths and know that every pitch we make you’re making a bet on trying to limit damage and induce swing and miss or weak contact. Generally, your softer options have that more attached to them.”

But that doesn’t mean the softer options are always the best ones, something Bailey, Bello and the Red Sox learned last night.

After allowing a two-run home run in the series opener – on a team-seam fastball to Seattle’s Mitch Haniger – Bello gave up two more last night to the Oakland A’s in the Red Sox’ eventual 5-4, extra-inning win. The difference this time is that both home run came on off-speed pitches, raining as questions about both pitch selection and execution, not to mention the overall philosophy.

Before we get into the details, the two home runs Bellow allowed last night can be seen here:

  • Now let’s get into the particulars.

    In this slo-mo of the Haniger homer, we highlighted both the set-up and execution. Catcher Connor wants this pitch down and away, but Bello fails to execute the pitch, which “backs up” and hangs on the inner part of the plate. That’s like feeding time for the beefy Langeliers, who belts it over the left field wall.

    One point here: Bello’s best pitch is the two-seam fastball, which devours right-handed hitters. With two outs and the Red Sox holding a 2-0 lead, a poorly executed slider (Bello’s worst pitch) got Oakland right back into the game. Some players don’t have the bat speed to handle power and movement – and Bello’s two-seamer has both – which makes the pitch selection questionable.

    At the end of the day, Bello’s execution of the pitch is a bigger problem, which brings us back to the philosophy of soft stuff: it only works if you can execute it. Bello can’t, which brings us to his second home-run ball of the night.

  • Again, with two outs and a man on, Bello had the lead in the game. (He also, 3-0, when he gave up a two-run home run to Seattle. All three home runs Bello has allowed have allowed the opponent to get back in the game an/or take the take.) This team, Bello goes with his second-best pitch – a changeup – but the pitch again is poorly executed. Wong (highlighted again before and during contact) wants this pitch away from the left-handed-hitting JJ Bleday, the Oakland center fielder. But Bello hangs it, allowing Bleday to launch.

    While the pitch selection here is not really issue, the execution is. Bello’s outings thus far have been sloppy and his mechanics have been loose. While his stuff can be high-level, his ability to thus far sharpen his delivery and refine his pitches is preventing him from taking another step in his development.

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