Layne may see situational save chances against left-handed hitters in the absence of Craig Kimbrel and Koji Uehara, Mike Silverman of the Boston Herald reports. Robbie Ross can be used in a similar manner, while Red Sox manager John Farrell is expected to lean primarily on Brad Ziegler as his primary ninth-inning option in the coming weeks. The two lefties could be used as a matchup-based options if Ziegler is needed earlier in the game.
Layne is throwing more curveballs and has incorporated a splitter against right-handed batters, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports. "We talked in spring training about something slow to throw to righties," said Layne. "I was basically fastball-slider last year, so I picked up a split and I've thrown quite a few curveballs the last couple of weeks. Just those two offerings, having a third or fourth pitch if I need it, that's made a big difference." The Red Sox have used Layne as a lefty-specialist the last two seasons and will continue to optimize him in the role, but there are times when he needs to face right-handers. Like last Friday, when David Price was bounced after 2.1 innings and Boston needed length. Layne pitched two scoreless innings against hitters from both sides of the plate. This season, he's limiting right-handed batters to a .294 slugging percentage and .584 OPS, a vast improvement over 2015 (.517, .950) and 2014 (.500, .929).
Layne pitched two scoreless innings in Friday night's loss to the Mariners. Finding opportunities for the lefty specialist has been difficult -- his last appearance was 16 days ago on June 1 -- but after two consecutive games in which Boston's starters failed to go deep, Layne was needed for a rare multi-inning appearance. His scoreless outing Friday snapped a three-game streak in which Layne's allowed at least one run.
Layne pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and two walks while striking out one in Saturday's extra-inning win over the Astros. Layne's primary job is that of a lefty specialist, and in that respect he did his job Saturday. He closed out the seventh inning, striking out left-handed hitter Colby Rasmus. But he was asked to give Boston multiple outs and he ran into trouble in the eighth, giving up a leadoff double to Marwin Gonzalez. He got lucky when Gonzalez strayed off the bag and was put out in a rundown. On the whole, he's performed well with a 1.93 ERA in 12 appearances, including limiting right-handed hitters to a .619 OPS.
Layne made his seasonal debut in Tuesday night's loss to Baltimore. He finished up the game, striking out two in one inning. Layne is Boston's situational left-hander out of the pen, but there hasn't been too many situations calling for his skill set. The Red Sox starting staff has been atrocious through seven games -- 7.32 ERA, last in MLB -- so there's been little need for Layne to face a tough left-handed batter in a tight game.