Primary Menu

Boston Red Sox

By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com

The 2018 Red Sox faced questions about their bullpen for six months, and it’s safe to assume that those questions will linger into the 2019 season.

Get ready for another year of bullpen talk, Boston.

Make no mistake about it: this won’t be a great bullpen. It might even be a bad bullpen to start the year.

But just like last year, it won’t matter one bit.

The Red Sox are good enough to overcome the issues that will almost assuredly arise with their bullpen early in the season. It might get adventurous at times and ugly at other times, but it won’t make a difference.

Who cares if they don’t have Craig Kimbrel? They won the World Series in spite of him last year.

Joe Kelly is off to Los Angeles. He was great in the playoffs, but let’s remember he barely made the postseason roster after an awful summer on the mound. His poor performance didn’t keep the Sox from winning 108 games last year.

A lack of depth, not a lack of a true closer, will be the real problem the Red Sox will encounter early in the season. Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier are both good pitchers and should be fine, but the Red Sox have few other reliable options beyond them.

Colton Brewer? Who’s that?

Heath Hembree? Brandon Workman? Neither are legitimate late innings options.

Tyler Thornburg? Please, the only person on earth who thinks he can contribute is Dave Dombrowski, who is desperate to prove that the Travis Shaw trade wasn’t a total disaster.

Aug 31, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Tyler Thornburg (47) reacts after giving up a three run home run to Chicago White Sox first baseman Matt Davidson (24) during the seventh inning at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

I have little faith that any of those pitchers can be impactful, but what does it matter? The Sox can trade for bullpen help at the deadline. Durbin Feltman or Darwinzon Hernandez will pitch their way to the big leagues this summer and will further stabilize this shaky group.

They’ll be just fine.

When the Sox get to October, Nathan Eovaldi, David Price, and Rick Porcello will bail them out again. Alex Cora was astute enough to use his starters to mask his questionable bullpen last year, I’m sure he’ll manage the same way again this year if he needs to.

Sure, the bullpen doesn’t look that good on paper, and I highly doubt it will be any good early on in the season for that matter, but I also doubt any relief struggles the Sox encounter in the first half of the year will sink them.

They’re too good for a bad bullpen to matter.

You can hear Matt McCarthy on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s own Hardcore Baseball podcast and on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.