Mazz: The Red Sox bullpen might be the strength of the team (clip and save)
Want to know how weird things are? The Red Sox bullpen might be the strength of the team.
And we’re not joking.
Does that mean the Red Sox shouldn’t explore bullpen help? Hell no – especially if the Sox fail in their pursuit of starting pitching (tomorrow’s installment and, obviously, the team’s most important need). Also, just because we call the bullpen a relative strength – key term: relative – that doesn’t mean it was elite. The Sox finished 15th in the majors in saves and, more important, totals just 16 blown saves, tied for the fewest in baseball. But remember, the Sox also had the sixth-fewest save chances, which means they generally had fewer games to blow.
To further clarify, remember that you can blow a save in the sixth inning as easily as the ninth.
OK, that’s a lot of explaining.
All things considered, the end of the Red Sox bullpen this year was pretty good, specifically ion the persons of Chris Martin and Kenley Jansen, the latter of whom went 29-of-33 in save opportunities. Martin, meanwhile, finished with a 1.05 ERA and walked just eight batters all year. Add Garrett Whitlock back to the mix as a full-time reliever – and possibly even Tanner Houck – to go along with Josh Winckowski and Brennan Bernardino, and, well, you get the idea. The Red Sox bullpen is in pretty good shape.
So why do the Sox need bullpen help at all? Well, let’s say the Sox whiff in the free-agent and trade markets with regard to starting pitching. In that case, it might make some sense to stack the bullpen with more arms, including a power lefty like Josh Hader. Hader isn’t what he was with Milwaukee a few years back, but he’s still good. And you need to win games somehow.
Are the Red Sox likely to pursue someone like Hader specifically? It doesn’t feel like it, mostly because it feels risky. But you get the idea. The first goal is to improve the rotation. But if that can’t be done. the next goal would be to improve the pitching staff, which could mean stacking the bullpen. At this stage, all options must be considered.