Boston Red Sox Manager John Farrell will have to worry about a few things regarding the Red Sox this season, but the bullpen will not be one of them.
The Red Sox had one of the better bullpens in baseball last season with closer Koji Uehara and set-up man Junichi Tazawa, but the bullpen looks to be even better in 2014. Not only will Uehara, Tazawa and Andrew Miller return, but the team acquired Burke Badenhop and Edward Mujica over the offseason.
Badenhop was traded from the Milwaukee Brewers last November. He has been a dependable reliever no matter what team he has been with as Badenhop has thrown at least 60 innings in each of the last five years. The last two seasons he has the same number of innings, same walks, same strikeouts, same home runs allowed with one fewer hit in 2013.
Mujica signed a two-year deal with the Red Sox for $9.5 million this offseason. The Red Sox will expect him to setup Uehara, but he can be an option if Uehara isn’t available. Mujica converted his first 21 save opportunities with the St. Louis Cardinals last season until finally blowing one on July 4 in L.A. He entered September, having 35 saves in 37 chances, with a 1.72 ERA.
Miller’s return from injury will also provide the Red Sox with excellent depth in the bullpen. Last July, he tore ligaments in his foot and was out for the remainder of the 2013 season. Prior to Miller’s injury, he was having the best season of his career as he posted a 2.64 ERA in 37 games. Not only could Miller be a six, seventh or eighth inning reliever, he could also be the fill-in reliever when neither Uehara nor Mujica are available.
Many teams go into the season with questions about their bullpen, but it is the strength of the Red Sox. If they are to repeat as World Series Champions, expect relievers Uehara, Tazawa, Miller, Mujica and Badenhop to have a lot to do with it.