The Boston Red Sox bullpen this season has been mediocre to say the least in 2018. Here’s why they need to make a deal.
Over the past 3 seasons, a crucial element to any playoff baseball team has been its bullpen. Last season, the Houston Astros were able to bypass this by having outstanding starting pitching to keep their arms in the bullpen fresh. The Boston Red Sox, however, have struggled to really find an interchangeable group of guys to consistently produce in the later innings.
Joe Kelly, for the most part, has been good with his 3.38 ERA, but with Carson Smith out for the remainder of the season and Tyler Thornburg working his way back into form, the Red Sox have no one else to turn to.
Kelly has also been utilized along with Matt Barnes in the 8th inning setup role. That key 7th inning middle reliever to keep the game in hand has been a missing element for this team all season.
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Let’s explore the current options:
This is a weak spot for the club.
The Red Sox have a handful of guys who are more prone to long relief, such as Heath Hembree but have lacked another dominant guy who only needs to throw 15-18 pitches to be successful. The only realistic available option would be Brandon Workman. Workman has been solid in his month-long stint with the club, posting a .82 ERA in 11 innings with 13 K’s. Ever since his Tommy-John surgery in April 2016, his usage has declined more and more. He’s only 29, but going forward he might not be the best option for a team that wants to pass through the ALDS.
Dave Dombrowski is notorious for his trades, but will he make another this deadline?
Relievers are often sought out at the deadline, most of which are rentals, such as last season as the Sox acquired Addison Reed for 3 low-level prospects. I wouldn’t be surprised if they went this route again this year. The market for relievers seems to be more potent than other years past. The most talented reliever the Sox could potentially trade for would be Padres Closer Brad Hand. Hand is a big lefty known for throwing multi-inning saves. The veteran lefty, however, is one of the leagues most capable and would take by far the most capital to be traded for. A move the team cant make.
Another such unrealistic move would be if the Sox decided to trade for Orioles closer Zach Britton. Britton, when at his best is one of the most dominant closing pitchers in the game, the issue comes at potential injury and cost. Acquiring a 30-year-old who converted 60 straight saves wouldn’t be easy, despite the Red Sox and Orioles past of completing deals. The cost is simply too high, and untouchable prospects like Jason Groome, will certainly not be moved.
A move that makes sense
A more plausible move would be to trade with the Marlins for closer Kyle Barraclough, who was named the National League reliever of the month for June after he converted all seven of his save opportunities. He did not allow a run in 12 innings and surrendered only one hit in 36 at-bats. Barraclough wouldn’t come at a crazy cost either, making this or a Fernando Rodney trade more reasonable. Rodney is 41 however and has a history of letting up home runs late in games. I for one cannot see Dave Dombrowski trading for a 41-year old reliever at the deadline.
Whatever happens, it’s going to be a hectic trade deadline for the Boston Red Sox.