Title Photo: Associated Press
There is no denying it. The Boston Red Sox have a good chance to make the postseason. They have a solid rotation, and a high-powered offense that can win slugfests. To the normal fan, the Sox bullpen looks pretty good… But the pen is rockier than most people think. Every team that wants to win it all needs a good bullpen. While the Red Sox have a decent one, there are lots of question marks, and too few answers. Here is my breakdown of Boston’s pen, and how they could fix it.
Photo: Michael Dwyer / Associated Press
Matt Barnes (Closer)
No complaints here. Barnesy has delivered every time he has been asked to pitch. He is finally showing the potential that made him a first-round pick. Barnes has plain dominated, with a 1-0 record, 8 saves, and a 2.00 ERA, along with an astounding 30 K’s in just 18 innings. Without him, the pen is awful.
Adam Ottavino (8th)
Ottavino was brought over in a rare Yankees-Red Sox trade, and boy has he imploded big time. Though his ERA is down to 4.50, he is only 2-2, and has 11 walks in 14 innings pitched. Right now he is the 8th inning guy, but I’m sure that he’s a blown lead away from the middle innings.
Photo: Michael Dwyer / Associated Press
Darwinzon Hernandez (7th, 8th)
Gas and filth. High cheese, and low junk. Whatever you want to call it, Darwinzon has got it. With an electric fastball, and pure filth on his slider and curveball, Hernandez will be in the bullpen for good, and not a starter. He does have command issues, and gives up too many walks, and big hits, but he can develop into a good, shutdown lefty.
Hirokazu Sawamura (Middle)
Sawamura was brought over from Japan, and has great stuff, but is prone to the long-ball. He is a solid option for the 7th or the 8th. His role is murky, as he can be a closer, step-up-man, or he can pitch in the middle innings. With a 3.31 ERA, Sawamura is pretty reliable, and as he transitions to the big leagues more, he could become one of the better relievers in the MLB.
Photo: Michael Dwyer / Associated
Matt Andriese (Any after the 5th)
Andriese is a former starter who has been brought on in many situations. From the 6th, to the bottom of the 10th, to close out a jam in the 8th, he has been everywhere. He has pitched 17.1 innings and has 17 strikeouts, across the season. I’m not a big fan of him coming in in the 8th, but at this point, it doesn’t really matter who comes in, because they will blow it.
Garrett Whitlock (Middle)
Whitlock is a former Yankees prospect, who was a Rule-V draft pick. After impressing in his first outings, he came back to earth in Texas, and vs. Detroit, but he has done well. The Red Sox have been using him for multiple innings, with 3-4 days rest. If Boston can develop him into a Joe Kelly guy, he could win the 8th inning job.
Photo: Rich Schultz / Getty Images
Josh Taylor (Jam, 7th)
Talyor has great stuff, but can’t locate it. He did well in 2019, but lost 2020 due to a positive COVID test. Alex Cora has had him be the guy to get them out of jams, and as a 7th inning man. He has a 6.39 ERA, and 7 walks, which have come in bunches. If Taylor can start to locate pitches better, then the pen could be a lot better.
Austin Brice (Jam)
Please. Get Brice outta here! Brice has given up 9 earned runs in 9.2 innings. Eduard Bazardo, Tanner Houck, and old friend Brandon Workman are all in Worcester, and are better than him. Brice has blown leads, and I am completely done with him. Hopefully, Workman can figure it out with the WooSox, because if Brice is on the roster for much longer, the Sox are in trouble.
Photo: Billie Weiss / Boston Red Sox / Getty Images
Phillips Valdez (Middle)
Valdez is the next man to go down to Tripe-A. He has an effective change-up, but has a tendency to get shelled. He has a 3.38 ERA, in 13.1 innings pitched, along with 13 K’s. Valdez is a good guy to have as your last man in the bullpen, but he could also be sent down.
Ok, so how could it be fixed?
I mentioned Brandon Workman is back in the organization, in Triple-A, to gain some velocity. Ryan Brasier is on the 60-day IL, so he should be back around mid-June, early-July. Bazardo, and Houck could be called up, with the former up right now, due to Nick Pivetta being on the COVID IL, and the latter has a minor injury. Here is what I think the pen could look like by the time Chris Sale comes back around the All-Star break.
Matt Barnes - Closer
Brandon Workman - 8th
Adam Ottavino - 7th, 8th
Darwinzon Hernandez - 6th, 7th, 8th
Hirokazu Sawamura - Jam, 6th, 7th
Garrett Whitlock - 6th, 7th
Josh Taylor - Jam, 6th
Martin Perez - Long Reliever, Lefty Guy
Matt Andriese - 5th, 6th