Erik Bedard has reached the end of the line. The former Baltimore Orioles ace is 35 years old and has a 7.45 ERA in his three appearances for the Tampa Bay Rays this season, walking more than he has struck out. And while the Tampa Bay Rays are scrambling for fill-in starters with Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, and Jeremy Hellickson out, if Bedard fails to perform one more time, he may buy himself his release. Tonight, Bedard goes up against the Boston Red Sox with the Rays desperately needing a win. Can he finally put something together?
Over the final two innings of his last start, Bedard allowed just one hit as he tossed shutout ball. It was his first time all season putting together two consecutive scoreless frames. Bedard had allowed four runs in the first two innings of the game, but after the Rays responded with four runs in the bottom of the second inning, Bedard finally responded. He attacked the strike zone with his fastball and the occasional curveball, and he left his outing with something to be confident in. Can he take the momentum from the end of his outing into this game?
If nothing else, Erik Bedard knows how important this time is for everyone involved. Unfortunately, he has been here before. He was on the Red Sox team that faltered in September of 2011 and the 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates team that collapsed before getting that far. With that Red Sox team, the franchise was crumbling, but Bedard simply pitched like himself, managing a 4.03 ERA in 8 starts after Boston acquired him. He did not worry about the starters around him struggling–there was nothing he could do to change that. The only task in front of him was to take the mound every fifth day and give the Red Sox the best chance to win. It is appropriate that Bedard returns to Fenway Park hoping to do the exact same thing.
And for himself, Bedard must see the writing on the wall. He is a 35 year old trying to compete with players who are younger and stronger. The only thing he wants to do is hang on a little bit longer and there is nothing else he can worry about. He has to be thinking that this start is his chance to earn another outing. This start gives him the chance to be a pitcher his team can rely on in their time of need. It could be the end of something or the beginning of something, and which way it goes could mean everything for Bedard’s fate. The Tampa Bay Rays need Erik Bedard tonight and Bedard desperately needs an effective outing. Is this the game where he finally finds success?