The Red Sox bullpen has been on the wrong side of some recent breakdowns and has been providing some tough performances to watch. However, they did pitch well on Saturday against the Blue Jays.
Matt Barnes, Junichi Tazawa, and Craig Kimbrel pitched a combined four innings, allowing only one run, one hit, one walk, and striking out three. The Red Sox won 6-4 over the Blue Jays in reassuring fashion to end a three-game slide.
Saturday was a much-needed day of relief, as the bullpen pitched well, which is something Red Sox fans haven’t seen much of in a week or so. Despite the struggles the bullpen is actually not doing as bad as fans think. They are ranked 8th in the American League with an ERA of 3.80.
I don’t think it’s time yet to jump the gun and say it’s a disaster, or even that it is time to worry. What I do think is reasonable to say though is that there are plenty of reasons to have concerns.
Carson Smith is out for the rest of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in May. Junichi Tazawa has been pretty shaky over the last week. He has given up two runs and only got one out during last Saturday’s game in Toronto. Then he also surrendered three runs in one inning against the Orioles on Thursday. He had success before this past week as he hadn’t given up a run in his previous nine appearances going all the way back to May 2nd. He has had issues with over usage; is this a sign of fatigue? Then, Koji Uehara in his last seven appearances has allowed two runs on three separate occasions, while his velocity has been lower than normal.
Carson Smith was brought in not only to add a dominant arm in the bullpen but also to ease the workload of Tazawa and Uehara. Without him, performances, like we have seen over the past week, may become a common occurrence.
Dave Dombrowski, Red Sox President of Baseball Operations should be concerned with the Red Sox bullpen right now, as well as the starting rotation.
Here are some possible relievers that may be available to trade for as the trade deadline moves closer :
Arodys Vizcaino, Braves
Vizcaino is a 25-year-old right-handed pitcher who has shown to be as dominate as they come this year. In 22.2 innings pitched, he has an ERA of 1.59, k/9 of 13.1, BB/9 of 2.8, and a WHIP of 1.103.
Fernando Abad, Twins
Abad is a left-handed pitcher from Minnesota, who has been having a lot of success this year against hitters from both sides of the plate. In 19.1 innings, he has only given up one run giving him an ERA of 0.93, while striking out 18, and having a WHIP of 1.034. He also has posted a career 57.1% groundball rate, which is great.
Tyler Clippard, Diamondbacks
Clippard is a right-handed pitcher who is established as being very solid out of the bullpen. He has a career ERA of 2.87 in over 500 innings pitched, a k/9 of 9.8, and a WHIP of 1.093. A possible addition of Clippard most certainly can help out our bullpen.
Jeremy Jeffress, Brewers
A right-handed high-90’s sinkerball pitcher could be a good fit in Boston. Also, not to go unmentioned, he is from South Boston…Virginia. He has a high ground ball rate of 60 percent, which can help for situational appearances, and has proven to be a solid reliever. This year in 26.2 innings pitched, he has a 2.36 ERA, BB/9 of 1.7, and a WHIP of 1.088.
Granted these could all be potential relievers we could trade for, don’t rule out any of the options that can come from our farm system as well:
The 37th overall pick in the 2012 draft is sitting in Triple-A Pawtucket throwing a fastball over 100 and could see a call-up. However, he has had control issues, as he is averaging a BB/9 of 5.1, compared to a K/9 of 9.8.
Having played in the majors already and posting a 3.23 ERA in 183.2 innings pitched, Varvaro could be a potential pitcher we may see called up as well. This year in Pawtucket after 23.1 innings pitched, he has a 2.70 ERA, a WHIP of 1.160, with opponents batting .202 against him.
A name everyone is very familiar with, is now sitting in Pawtucket and is expected to start on Monday. Kelly has proven while in St. Louis that he had pitched with better control out of the bullpen rather than starting games. In 2013 out of the bullpen he posted an ERA of 2.69 in over one hundred innings, had a BB/9 of 3.2, and a WHIP of 1.355. Bringing him back and putting him in the bullpen is also an option the Red Sox are not necessarily ruling out.