AL East Notes: Tazawa, Huff, Francisco, Napoli

Red Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa has struggled with consistency despite good numbers overall, and Tim Britton of the Providence Journal says he is a growing concern. Britton cites coaches and players (including Tazawa himself) that peg the issue as Tazawa's usually excellent splitter. He has left the pitch up at times and failed to separate it from his fastball in terms of velocity, which could be the cause of his reduced ground-ball rate (34.1%) and increasing propensity for allowing the long ball (1.2 HR/9). Some argued that the club should have acted before the end of August to add another righty to the bullpen mix, but the club stood pat. Of course, Brandon Workman has been stingy of late after struggling early on, giving the club another right-handed arm down the stretch.  Here's more out of the AL East..

  • Working his way from the waiver wire to the Yankees' starting rotation, lefty David Huff has been solid for the Bombers, writes Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger. McCullough has the story of Huff's up-and-down career, and his emergence for New York late this season as the team tries to claw back into the post-season picture. After 16 innings of 1.13 ERA pitching out of the pen, Huff got the starting nod today for a critical matchup against the Red Sox. He was hit hard in the early going, however, surrendering nine earned runs in three innings and change.
  • The Yankees should put together a trade for Mets right-hander Frank Francisco, Adam Rubin of suggests in a tweet. Though Francisco wouldn't be eligible for the Yanks' postseason roster, he could help them in the season's final month, Rubin says. The 33-year-old was activated by the Mets from the disabled list today and hasn't appeared in a game this season. Fransico had a 5.53 ERA and an ugly 4.5 BB/9 in 42 1/3 innings for the Mets last year, but struck out 10 batters per nine innings.
  • Mike Napoli's agent Brian Grieper responded, "He has stuck to his routine all season … we'll see," when asked if his client will ever appear behind the plate again, according to a tweet by Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe. After appearing in at least 61 games at catcher every year since making the majors in 2006, Napoli hasn't caught in a game in 2013, spending the majority of his time at first base. Though the ability to catch would allow Napoli to provide more value to a club as he re-enters the free agent market, his diagnosis of avascular necrosis in the hips last offseason has likely been a factor in deciding where he plays.

Jeff Todd and Aaron Steen contributed to this post.

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