In the Red Sox first half, the bullpen has been pretty good despite a few pitchers who can’t seem to get it together. There were a few new faces added this offseason in Edward Mujica, Burke Badenhop, and the since-released Chris Capuano to go along with the core group from last year. Overall, the bullpen ERA sits at 3.10 which is good for tenth in the MLB and fifth in the AL.
Koji Uehara caught everyone by surprise last year with his lights-out second half of the year and playoffs, and he hasn’t been too far off this year. Although he has had a couple of blown saves, and has let up some late home runs in tie ballgames, he has kept his ERA to 1.65 before the break. The only AL closer who can top that is Toronto’s Casey Janssen who entered the break with a 1.23. There’s a small chance Koji could be dealt, but let’s hope the best closer in the AL sticks with the Red Sox.
Junichi Tazawa has been in the Sox bullpen for three years now and has been a reliable setup man in the past. With a 2.61 ERA and low WHIP to go along, Tazawa has fulfilled his expectations again this season. It was unsure what role he would have in the bullpen when Mujica was signed, but Tazawa has showed that his experience in the AL is an important factor.
Craig Breslow was coming off a career year and solid postseason, but is currently posting his worst year in a decade in the big leagues. The 33-year-old has a solid career ERA of 2.99, but that includes this season’s 5.18 he has posted in 34 games before the break. Breslow needs to get it together if he wants to continue to see time out of the bullpen.
With Breslow stumbling, Andrew Miller has done great in his lefty specialist role out of the pen. Although he had a stretch in May in which he lost four of six appearances, he has only allowed two runs in 16 outings since June. His 2.23 ERA at the break puts him only behind Uehara in the Sox bullpen and his 14.45 K/9 is by far the best on the team.
Burke Badenhop has been shaky as of late, but has been a solid option for John Farrell out of the bullpen all year. Allowing runs in three out of his last four outings before the break, his ERA has gone up from 1.62 to 2.93. He has only allowed one home run on the year though, which only he and Miller have done. Badenhop’s reliability has made him probably the best off season signing by the Red Sox.
Edward Mujica lost his job as closer for the Cardinals in the second half of last season and it has been all downhill since then. His two year contract already looks like a mistake and he is just another example of a NL pitcher who can’t handle the AL. In his first three years in the majors in Cleveland, he had a 6.04 ERA in 70 innings. In his five years in the NL, he had a 3.31 ERA. Now he’s back up to a 5.45 ERA in Boston. Is it a coincidence? Possibly, but I hope we don’t have to deal with this for another year and a half.
Chris Capuano was yet another lifetime national leaguer and he just couldn’t cut it for the Sox. He was never really that great in the NL to start with, but the signing was an odd choice to begin with. Capuano actually started out great, not allowing a run in 14.1 innings in April. However, 16 earned runs in 17.1 innings in May and June led to him being released. He hasn’t been picked up by another team to this point.
Koji Uehara- Grade: A-
Junichi Tazawa- Grade: B+
Craig Breslow- Grade: F
Andrew Miller- Grade: A-
Burke Badenhop- Grade: B
Edward Mujica- Grade: F
Chris Capuano- Grade: F