A lot has been made recently of the apparent “bullpen issues” for the first place Boston Red Sox. I’m here to calm everyone’s worries and remind you that this team is on a historic pace for a reason. Yeah, maybe the bullpen has faltered at times. Yeah, there definitely are some pitchers that you don’t want to see come running to the mound in October. However, with all that said, this bullpen has many valuable members. Many of whom have played a significant role in the double-digit division lead.
The Back End
Let’s start with the anchor at the back, Craig Kimbrel. While it may not be his most dominant season, he is still an elite closer. That is a huge asset to have in the bullpen come postseason time. He’s one of the most overpowering relievers in the league, and his strikeout numbers prove that. He’s easily handled all of his saves in September and has posted a 1.29 ERA over his last 7 appearances. The strength of this team has been the offense, and with the team being up a significant amount of runs, Kimbrel has been able to stay nice and rested. He’ll be fresh in the playoffs.
The Set Up
To the eighth inning we head, and Alex Cora has multiple studs out in the bullpen that can bridge the game to Kimbrel. A healthy Matt Barnes is crucial, and we should get that at least by the playoffs. People can say what they want about Barnes and his control, but it’s no coincidence that he’s sixth out of all relievers in baseball with over FOURTEEN strikeouts per nine. When Matt Barnes is 100%, he’s got 100% of my trust. If he isn’t quite healthy yet then turn to Ryan Brasier. He’s been more than the Sox could’ve dreamed of when they called him up in July. He revitalized his career in Japan, now he’s pumping gas out of the Boston bullpen with a 1.80 ERA. Brasier is going to be key in the postseason, no matter what his role is.
The Middle of the Bullpen
A few other guys who are going to work their way into the middle of the game for the Sox are also going to play a crucial role. Joe Kelly has looked a little shaky at times, but that dude has the right mentality to be pitching in the postseason in front of 40,000 screaming Yankees fans in NYC. Knuckleballers tend to frighten fans at times, but Steven Wright has been criminally underrated this year. If that knuckleball can dance in the playoffs like it has been all year, we might have the second coming of Tim Wakefield.
Brandon Workman has been solid this season, and he’s also done the whole World Series thing before. I would feel confident if he were to trot out for the 7th inning in a tight ballgame. The last name I’m going to toss out there is a huge x-factor, seeing as he might be the only lefty in the pen, and that is Bobby Poyner. Don’t sleep on Poyner playing a large role in specific matchup situations for Cora. However, when he is on, he has as good of stuff as anyone out in that pen.
Feel reassured yet? You should! This bullpen only gets flak because it’s the only glaring “weakness” on a team with 100+ wins. They have one of the best closers on the planet mixed with multiple, reliable options to get from the starters to the closer. Everybody just relax and breathe, this bullpen is solid and this team is set for a deep run.
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