The 2018 Red Sox started off with a crushing loss on Opening Day. Ever since, however, they have now won eight straight. Even with the best start in franchise history, this team still has some flaws. And the guys over in the bullpen are a big one.
The bullpen wasted no time to blow their first game of the year. They blew a three run lead in the 8th inning against the Rays. Joe Kelly walked three guys, and Carson Smith would give up a two out, three RBI triple to Denard Span. Not good. What’s even worse is the fact that the pen hasn’t looked too much better ever since.
It was good for the most part in the rest of the series in Tampa. But in the Miami series, it was shaky to say the least. The problem about this Red Sox bullpen right now is the fact that there is really nobody to trust. With a 7-2 lead against the Marlins on Monday, Marcus Walden came in. He struggled to the point where Craig Kimbrel had to start warming up.
The following night, the Sox took a lead in the top of the 11th with a Benintendi base hit to right, scoring Nunez. The game was over, right? Nope. After Matt Barnes got the first two Marlins out of the bottom half of the inning, he walked the next 2. Not a good idea. He then gave up a line shot over Andrew Benintendi’s head in left. Barnes ultimately got bailed out by Justin Bour being slow, and a nice relay to gun down the winning run at the plate. The Red Sox ended up winning that game.
In the Home Opener on Thursday, David Price pitched seven scoreless innings. Carson Smith took over in the 8th, and what would he do? Allow a two-run homer to Matt Duffy of the Rays. Craig Kimbrel even struggled, as he loaded the bases in the 10th before getting out of his own jam. The Sox ended up rallying to win that game as well.
Now, there aren’t only negatives from these relievers so far. Heath Hembree and Joe Kelly did a great job on Tuesday. Also, the new lefty Bobby Poyner threw two shutout innings in the Home Opener, extra inning win.
The problem here is nobody right now besides Kimbrel, who has even had struggles of his own, is someone you can trust to come in late in a game and hold the other team off. Even with Tyler Thornburg making his Red Sox debut soon, this very well might be something Dave Dombrowski will have to address at the deadline. But as of right now, we can only work with who we have. So that means the guys in this pen will have to start being more reliable, and more consistent.
Cover image courtesy of Chowdaheadz Blog.