Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/22/14
BOSTON –– Without a doubt, pitching was the Red Sox' weakness in 2012. The team's pitching staff finished with a 4.70 ERA, the third-worst in the American League last season. Boston's leftover horses –– Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz –– finished short of expectations with a 4.82 ERA and 4.56 ERA, respectively. Under John Farrell's watch from 2007 to 2010, the pair evolved into All-Star pitchers. Although the new Red Sox manager won't deem himself the savior of the rotation, he's already identified a few of Lester's miscues. "From a pitching standpoint there were some very obvious things with Jon that he and I have already talked about that you saw with his delivery that he kind of drifted into," Farrell said. "That might have affected his overall consistency. "Setting aside Jon's mention, setting aside Clay's name, we all recognize how important pitching and particularly starting pitching. You look at every team that has advanced to the postseason, and let's face it, that's how we're going to be measured, not if we get into the postseason, but how deep do we progress into the postseason. And it typically starts and ends with your starting rotation. So that is a priority." Farrell's return is also expected to help Daniel Bard rediscover his mechanics. In 2009 and 2010, Bard developed into one of baseball's elite set-up men, totaling 139 strikeouts while averaging a 2.79 ERA. When the Red Sox attempted to convert Bard into a starting pitcher in spring training, he unraveled. One by one, he lost his command and velocity en route to being demoted to Pawtucket for the majority of the season. In 17 games in the majors, Bard compiled a 5-6 record with a 6.22 ERA, 43 walks and eight hit batters in 2012. The issues lingered in 31 games in Triple-A, when Bard tallied a 7.03 ERA with 29 walks and 10 hit by pitches. It turns out, Farrell already has suggestions for Bard. "We've exchanged a couple of text messages and voice mails," Farrell said. "Before getting a chance to talk with him in depth, I couldn't begin to say what the steps to adjustments might be. But I think we all recognize, it wasn't too long ago that this might've been the best eighth inning reliever in baseball. He's not injured. That gives you every reason to believe that he might regain that performance ability." That's why Farrell was such an intriguing candidate to Red Sox president Larry Lucchino. "His history is focused on pitching," Lucchino said. "Obviously one of the malfunctioning parts of our organization." But Farrell insists that he won't spearhead the pitching. While he intends to be involved, the Red Sox' manager said Boston's next pitching coach –– the fifth since 2010 –– would be the premier voice. "There's demands during the day that are going to keep me from going down to the bullpen and working with a pitcher on his side day," Farrell said. "Certainly my conversations with the pitching coach, whoever that becomes here, will happen naturally because of my background. That's what happened in Toronto. "It will be no different than a former catcher managing a club and talking to a hitting instructor or positional coach there." But the hope is that Farrell's presence will propel Lester, Buchholz and Bard's back to being elite. Have a question for Didier Morais? Send it to him via Twitter at @DidierMorais or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.
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