The Red Sox bullpen is in flux for 2019. Craig Kimbrel is out there asking for a 6-year deal, which the Red Sox will never give him. Joe Kelly is also a free agent, and his performance doesn’t exactly inspire. Because an already bloated Red Sox payroll, it’s looking like a budget bullpen piece is the answer. The place to go is Cody Allen.
Cody Allen Performance
Between the years of 2014 and 2017, Cody Allen was one of the best closers in the game. He averaged 32 saves a year as the anchor of a star-studded bullpen that included Andrew Miller. The Cleveland Indians rode that bullpen to a lot of postseason success, including a run to the 2016 World Series.
In the regular season, he averaged an ERA under 3 during that time, but he stepped it up in the Postseason. His career Postseason ERA was 0.47 in 19 innings. That’s positively vintage Mariano Rivera territory.
But then 2018 happened. He had a 4.70 ERA, lost his closer position, and got blown up in the Postseason. So what gives?
The information may be behind a paywall, but pitch usage points to a few things – specifically his curveball. The curve got less swing and misses in 2018, and he had some trouble throwing it for strikes. Furthermore, he lost a MPH on his fastball, which dipped below 94 MPH. The fastball/curve mix is what made him so deadly.
Maybe being in a free agent year got to him. Maybe he was simply tired and in this era of quick hooks and little patience he crumbled. But he wouldn’t be available if he had remained elite last year.
A quick google search of Cody Allen shows a distinct lack of contract demands. There are not even stories out there like this one, saying Joe Kelly is being looked at by multiple teams as a closer. Because of this, it appears clear that Allen would come cheap. Maybe even on a one year deal. Now that’s more like it.
Cody Allen isn’t necessarily a sure thing, but he looks pretty good from here. He’s one year removed from being untouchable in the Postseason for many years. He’s only 30 years old, he’s cheap, and he would be an excellent gamble to pair with the remaining relievers on the staff, such as Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes, in the late innings.
Furthermore, he is right-handed. This is essential. The Red Sox biggest competition, the Astros and Yankees, have a plethora of right-handed, middle of the order bats in their lineups. To me, that excludes left-handed possibilities for essential bullpen roles like Andrew Miller and Zach Britton. Kelvin Herrera is also cheap, right-handed, and recently successful, but arm troubles on top of foot troubles make him too risky.
That leaves Cody Allen. Sign him.