The Boston Red Sox bullpen is atrocious.
If you go to Boston’s depth chart, you’ll glance at their list of relievers and struggle mightily to visualize the same squad that just won the World Series. At the moment, the Red Sox bullpen features the following personnel:
- Steven Wright (suspension – PEDs)
- Brian Johnson
- Tyler Thornburg
- Bobby Poyner
- Hector Velázquez
- Heath Hembree
- Brandon Workman
- Ryan Brasier
- Matt Barnes
You might look at that list and think it’s not too bad. Brasier was lights out in the regular season. In 33.2 innings pitched, he posted a 1.60 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and 29 strikeouts. Poyner wasn’t half bad either; 22.1 innings pitched as he registered a 3.22 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 24 strikeouts. Workman owned similar numbers to Poyner. But aside from those three relievers, the Red Sox have no other relief pitchers who had a WHIP less than 1.21 last season.
The only reliever who hasn’t been mentioned is all-world free agent closer Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel was shaky during the playoffs, but has been reliable throughout his tenure in Boston, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, it seems that the player wants too much money to stay in the Commonwealth and it appears that Red Sox owner John Henry has no further interest or inclination to meet his financial demands.
With Kimbrel gone, the Red Sox have enlisted Matt Barnes as their closer. As a Red Sox fan, I find it sadly ironic that Barnes will be the stopper that this organization relies upon to close out ball games. Last season, Barnes owned a 4.52 BB/9. His BB/9; the worst of his major league career. On the other hand, he did post an outstanding 14.01 K/9, but that doesn’t out-weigh his gruesome walk rate. The last thing that you want is a closer that walks batters left and right.
This off-season, many eager and available relievers were signed to new deals. Below is a list of who they are and which club signed them to new deals:
Cody Allen – Angels, 1 year, 8.5 mil
Zack Britton – Yankees, 3 year, 39 mil
Jeurys Famillia – Mets, 3 year, 30 mil
Kelvin Herrera – White Sox, 2 year, 18 mil
Joe Kelly – Dodgers, 3 year, 25 mil
Andrew Miller – Cardinals, 2 year, 25 mil
Adam Ottavino – Yankees, 3 year, 27 mil
David Robertson – Phillies, 2 year, 23 mil
Trevor Rosenthal – Nationals, 1 year, 7 mil
Joakim Soria – Athletics, 2 year, 15 mil
Justin Wilson – Mets, 2 year, 10 mil
Do you see the Red Sox listed anywhere? Nope.
The team instead lost Joe “Fight Club” Kelly to the Los Angeles Dodgers and bona fide all-star Kimbrel, failing to add a reliever to bolster their corps.
It just doesn’t make any sense. The Red Sox have shown that they are willing to spend serious money to buy wins. Heck, they paid their gratuitous luxury tax last season for that reason alone and it’s clear that they are up for spending. It’s just shocking that the bank of John Henry was closed this off-season since it looks like it’ll be a long season without a stud or two in the bullpen.
Perhaps they’ll address their depth issue by making a trade at some point prior to the deadline. Unfortunately, that means going months and months without a solid and reliable late inning pen. All-in-all, it doesn’t look good for the Boston to start their year as defending World Series champions with this kind of unnecessary front office frugality.
stats from mlb.com, fangraphs.com and baseball-reference.com