The Red Sox are the best team in baseball (record wise). At the time of this blog, the team is an impressive 103-49. Having said that, there are still some things that make me feel uneasy about the Sox when it comes to the postseason.
The offense should do just fine if JD Martinez and Mookie Betts play at their usual MVP levels. I’m not even that worried about the starting rotation anymore, with Sale getting much needed rest, and Price finding his groove (despite that retched start against the Yankees last night).
But man, oh man, that bullpen has more problems than Ronnie from Jersey Shore.
In October, the 25-man roster for the Red Sox will definitely feature 4 starters, and a starter or 2 in the bullpen. Lots of choices for bullpen options. From Kimbrel to Cuevas, I don’t trust anyone in this bullpen. Just when you think these guys will get their crap together. Their 9th ranked bullpen ERA of 3.60 is misleading since the Cleveland Indians are ranked 24th with a 4.56 ERA. The Indians bullpen is much better than that, and can shut out the Red Sox if they wanted to. Even without their leader in Andrew Miller (who has been injured for a large chunk of the season), they were better pitching-wise. Now with Miller slowly coming back for the October run, the Red Sox pitching is looking worse and worse, which leads me to believe that these stats are misleading at times.
Matt Barnes is one of the guys I don’t know if I can trust. He has the stuff to be a good set-up man, but doesn’t reach his full potential for more than 1 or 2 appearances, then he completely gives up and starts throwing crap in the wind. His 3.39 ERA doesn’t make me uneasy as well. After a hip injury sidelined him as of late, Red Sox fans should hope he feels better and can be a #1 guy coming out of the bullpen. No matter what though, he won’t be as bad as my next culprit… Joe Kelly.
Kelly’s 4.45 ERA is crap. His early season brawl with the Yankees made me think “Well this guy has some balls!” Boy did I need to get tombstoned by Undertaker after that one. I sat and watched Felger and Mazz bash this guy for sucking, but I just kept trying to pull for Kelly since the fight because he brought an excitement to the rivalry baseball needs.
But man, this guy blooooooooows.
Pre-all-star break, where the Sox didn’t play much competition, Kelly’s ERA was a garbage 4.31, with an opponent’s batting average at .194. Post All-Star break, where teams start to prep for their postseason runs (i.e. start to lock it in and do better), Kelly’s ERA is 4.70 with an opponent BA at .303. Even with these shitty stats, his spot in the bullpen this postseason will probably be secured due to the Red Sox having other shitty pitchers that make the likes of Papelbon look like Mariano Rivera.
Steven Wright? NEVER TRUST A KNUCKLEBALLER! Also, his domestic abuse problem still bothers me. Why the hell would the Sox still have this guy on the roster? Even after the details that came out, I don’t want to see that piece of crap anywhere near the diamond.
Craig Kimbrel is a weird one for me. He has only given up 1 run his last 10 appearances. He has a 2.29 ERA and is as close to great closer the Red Sox can rely on. But how much can they rely on him to make 4 out saves? Can he get over not coming in for a clean inning? But if I’m ever in need for a save, theres no doubt I’ll go to Kimbrel when I need someone to give me a save, or to just keep me in the game in the last 2 innings.
I’m not hot on Ryan Brasier either. In 3.1 innings the past month against playoff teams, he’s given up 3 earned runs. Sure his 1.80 ERA is attractive, but so was Carmelo going to the Thunder (we all know how that dumpster fire turned out). I need a bit more time to give a full opinion on this poor sap.
The last thing I want to bring up was the Ian Kinsler trade. Our writer Nick Collins (@nick_Collins14) sent me stats from Baseball America that blows my mind. On July 30th of this year, Kinsler was acquired by the Sox from the Angels for Ty Buttrey. Buttrey could have been a huge help to the Sox bullpen. He has 19 strikeouts in 15.1 innings and hasn’t allowed a run in 7 appearances in September. Granted, the Sox needed help at 2ndbase, and Kinsler is a fine edition. But I believe a strong bullpen is needed to win in the MLB postseason. From great bullpens like Cleveland, to the World Series winning Royals from a few years ago, to those weird Giants teams from a couple years ago, a bullpen is a must, and Buttery could have been the answer. Damn you Dombrowski!
With the help of Nick, he made a great point about the MLB regular season vs the postseason:
“If a team goes in a full postseason run, its only up to an additional 10% worth of games. That’s if every series went to a game 5/7, versus 15-20% in the NFL depending on if you play in the Wild Card game, and up to 24% in the NBA/ NHL if you play all game 7s.”
There’s less turnaround for guys who are struggling.
“If they go cold, there’s less time to turn it around, and that’s where talent and reliability really matters.”
Can we trust the Red Sox bullpen to take us to the promise land? Can Barnes, Kimbrel, or hell, even Joe Kelly, take on the slack in the postseason or are the Red Sox done for? Or are they completely bullpen proof and the offense will save them time and time again?