Since last June, it’s felt like nothing but doom and gloom surrounding the Boston Red Sox.
After failing to add pieces to fill the glaring voids following a surprising run to the ALCS in 2021, high points and celebrations for Sox nation have been few and far between.
But in the spirit of the holiday season and with a rejuvenation of the new year just around the corner, I’m here to bring some slight optimism to the Red Sox nation.
To be clear, there will be no delusions of grandeur here. I’m not going to tell you how this Red Sox roster can win 95 games and play deep into October; that seems unrealistic with how loaded the AL East is and the obvious holes in this roster. But from the development of younger players to the addition of some newcomers, there are certain pieces that can help even the most hopeless of Red Sox fans find some enjoyment this season.
The Boston Red Sox have made some clear upgrades in the bullpen
Kenley Jansen: For the first season in quite some time, the Boston Red Sox will have a clear-cut All-star quality
closer. The 35-year-old right-hander and three-time All-Star heads into the 2023 season fresh off an excellent campaign in Atlanta in which he led the National League with 41 saves in 64 innings pitched. He fills a massive hole in the Red Sox bullpen, which limped to a 4.59 ERA and 27 blown saves last season, both tied for fifth worst in all of Major League Baseball. Red Sox manager Alex Cora has had a mix-and-match ensemble at the back end of the bullpen, and the results have been ugly.
Chris Martin: The daunting 6’8 right-hander brings some presence to a seriously lacking Red Sox bullpen. Martin is the definition of a strike thrower and fills up the zone and attacks hitters with a legit sinker-cutter combo.
Chris Martin was downright dominant after a trade from the Cubs to the Dodgers at the 2022 trade deadline. Martin logged 24.2 innings in Los Angeles, punching out 34 and walking just one batter to the tune of a 1.46 ERA and a minuscule .53 WHIP.
Joely Rodriguez: As Matt Straham seems to be leaving Boston in free agency and Josh Taylor makes his return from a back injury that saw him miss all of 2022, the Red Sox desperately needed to add a left-handed presence to the bullpen for the 2023 season. That addition comes in the form of 31-year-old LHP Joely Rodriguez, who spent the 2022 campaign in Queens with the New York Mets.
Rodriguez is a true sinker-slider lefty who comes to Boston with some interesting numbers. While his 4.47 ERA and 26 walks in 50.1 innings pitched won’t excite many, Rodriguez did hold opposing batters to a .226 BA as he recorded an excellent 54.3 percent ground ball rate. If Rodriguez can limit the walks, he could be a valuable weapon for Alex Cora in 2023.