Boston Red Sox: This is why the bullpen deserves some props

A week into the 2020 season and the bullpen of the Boston Red Sox has been tasked with putting up quality innings in bulk. For the most part, they’ve succeeded.

The writing was on the wall even before the season started that the Boston Red Sox were going to need their relief corps to step up their game in 2020.

The cupboard was — and is — nearly bare, devoid of little resembling starting pitching, with Nathan Eovaldi doing the bulk of the heavy-lifting early. Because of the lack of reliable starters, Boston has gone to the bullpen early and often this season.

Eight games in, Boston (3-5) has used its bullpen with great regularity, with three-fifths of the rotation basically “openers”. The results, as limited as the samples have been, are mostly on the positive side for the Red Sox relievers.

They were in full-effect again on Friday night against the New York Yankees. Starter Ryan Weber, for the second-straight start, failed to get past the fourth inning. Relying on the bullpen once again, three relievers tossed 4.2 innings, not allowing any runs until two crossed in the eighth.

There have been a couple of bad nights in the mix, both losses to the New York Mets. Relievers combined to allow 10 runs in these two games, but the bullpen was also forced to throw a combine 13.1 innings.

All told, the bullpen has thrown 37.2 innings so far in 2020. They’ve given up a lot of hits, 40, but have managed to allow only 19 runs. These relievers have been aided by the strikeout as well, totaling 45.

It’s not just one or two players dominating the stat lines, either. There’s a few making their marks and proving their worth in the early part of the 2020 season.

Individual breakdowns of Boston Red Sox pitchers

One appearance is all it took for Zack Godley to endear himself to Red Sox fans. Now, we’ll see if a start on Saturday against the Yankees will keep that love going.

Godley, a former starter with the Arizona Diamondbacks, came out firing earlier in the week against the New York Mets. The righty showed up with four innings of scoreless baseball, allowing only four hits while striking out seven.

While it would be nice to have Godley bringing the heat out of the bullpen, it will be even better if he can give the Red Sox five or six innings to help a struggling starting rotation.

Three other relievers have been a bright spot so far, notably Phillips Valdez. Valdez has been used in a long relief role. He has tossed 5.2 innings, allowing only four hits while striking out six and helped stem the tide against the Yankees on Friday, tossing 2.2 innings.

Heath Hembree has also been his good, unassuming self. Appearing in four games so far, Hembree has yet to allow a run as well.

Colten Brewer had been in the same “0.00 E.R.A.” boat until Friday night’s game. He was the lone blemish on the bullpen’s mark, allowing those two runs in the eighth. Until then, Brewer had thrown four innings this season without allowing a run.

There’s also a trio of veterans in the Boston bullpen who have struggled with control in the season’s first week. Being the wily veterans they are, however, all three have been able to escape jams. Matt Barnes, Marcus Walden, and Brandon Workman all have an E.R.A. of 3.00, with Workman picking up the team’s only two saves.

Next: Boston Red Sox: Eduardo Rodriguez refusing to strike out in 2020

Hitters are going to have the edge with this late-July start so it’s been nice to see the Red Sox bullpen performing so well. There’s still some issues to work around, like getting Ryan Brasier and Austin Brice on track, but eight games in I’m please with the results.

The relievers are doing their best to keep Boston in games by limiting further damage and finding ways to work out of tough situations. The heavy workload might ultimately prove to be their undoing, but for now, it’s refreshing not to have to sweat their every performance.

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