Red Sox Bullpen Has Become A Mess

To begin the season, Boston’s starting pitching was the team’s biggest weak link. Now, the starters have begun to settle down. Chris Sale allowed two runs yesterday and struck out 10 through five frames. Rick Porcello is coming off his best start (5.2 innings, 2 earned runs). After allowing 11 earned runs in his first two starts, Eduardo Rodriguez has permitted just 5 earned runs in his past two. Hector Velázquez has started three games since April 7 and has done a nice job in his role as a spot-start pitcher. And David Price has been the club’s best starter through four starts: 3.75 ERA,1.04 WHIP, 30 k’s in 24 innings. The Red Sox bullpen, however, after having started the season on a strong note, has reverted to become a complete liability.

In yesterday’s day-night double header against the Tigers, in game 1’s top of the 5thRed Sox Bullpen inning, Chris Sale escaped a jam. Runners were on first and third with Detroit’s best hitter (Niko Goodrum – .838 OPS) at the plate. Sale struck him out looking to keep the game tied at two. Heath Hembree then relieved Sale in the 6th, and allowed a solo home run to Detroit’s Ronny Rodriguez (career .645 OPS). The Red Sox were now suddenly playing from behind.

Two innings later, with the score tied 3-3, Colten Brewer was called on to pitch. He eventually escaped the inning on a double play, but not before he allowed 3 runs to cross the plate. Going into the bottom of the 8th, with six outs left for Boston, Detroit had taken a 6-3 lead. The Red Sox ended up losing 7-4.

Game 2

In the night cap, the first reliever out of the ‘pen was Marcus Walden. He came on in the top of the 4th inning, with the bases loaded and one out. He did not deliver and, consequently, surrendered a bases-clearing double to Brandon Dixon (career .636 OPS). The Tigers took a 3-0 lead.

In the next inning, manager Alex Cora called on southpaw Darwinzon Hernandez. It was his major league debut after being (temporarily) recalled earlier that day as Boston’s 26th player for the double header. He threw 50 pitches in 2.1 innings, allowed four hits, one walk, and struck out four.

With one out in the top of the 7th, with the Tigers still leading 3-0, Hernandez was replaced by Travis Lakins, making his ML debut. Lakins was recalled between games for reliever Bobby Poyner, who, in two appearances, owns a 18.00 ERA for the Red Sox. Lakins pitched 2.2 innings. He threw 34 pitches and allowed 1 earned run.

The Red Sox bullpen has become a mess

David Dombrowski’s Red Sox bullpen experiment is starting to become embarrassing. In an interview with NESN correspondent Tom Caron on April 11, Dombrowski was quoted saying, “Overall, we’re very happy with them (bullpen) and they have good stuff and we think they’ll continue to pitch well for us.” We now find ourselves just two weeks removed from that conversation. Things have changed.

Poyner and Erasmo Ramirez have both been summoned from Triple-A. They each pitched poorly and Ramirez was designated for assignment after being signed to a minor-league contract in the offseason. Heath Hembree, Tyler Thornburg, and Colten Brewer all have earned-run-averages (ERA) above 5.50. Brewer’s sits at a disgusting 8.31.

Matt Barnes started the season superbly with just one earned run in his first 7 appearances. In his last two games, though, he has a blown win, a blown save, and has allowed two home runs in late-game situations.

Ryan Brasier, Brandon Workman, and Marcus Walden have all been terrific, with ERA’s of 1.59, 2.61, and 2.38, respectively. But, Walden was optioned to Triple-A by Dombrowski on April 15 after allowing earned runs in back-to-back appearances against the belittled Orioles. He was recalled on April 20.

How does Boston’s bullpen stack up?

In comparison to all other American League teams, Dombrowski’s bullpen has the fifth highest ERA (4.87). The bullpen has allowed the fourth-most hits and second-most runs, earned runs, and home runs. What’s most eye-opening is that Red Sox bullpen relievers have allowed 30 more runs than Houston Astros relievers this season.

Cemented starter Nathan Eovaldi underwent surgery yesterday on his elbow and will not pick up a baseball for six weeks. The club is now stuck with four starters. There is a chance that a fifth starter arrises before Eovaldi comes back, but that scenario seems unlikely. Hector Velázquez will continue to be a spot-starting option, especially with Brian Johnson still on the shelf. Perhaps Darwinzon Hernandez gets called back up and becomes a spot-starter? Nonetheless, the Red Sox bullpen will be subject to a heavy workload.

Dombrowski has reached into his pockets and has spent $335 million dollars on Sale, Eovaldi, and Xander Bogaerts since December. This is the Boston Red Sox. Hence, no one is going to scrutinize the front office for going all in. How do they do that? Cough up some more dough for Craig Kimbrel or Dallas Keuchel, who surprisingly still remain on the free agent market. Kimbrel would add stability to the ‘pen and Keuchel could eat up innings as a fifth starter. Keep Keuchel as a starter the rest of the way, and, when Eovaldi is ready to return, have him stay in the pen.

Red Sox Plummet To 6-13, Swept By Yankees

At the onset of each matchup, the Sox keep setting out to win games with high hopes of winning series.’ Through 19 games in their championship-defending season, however, the club has yet to win a series and has split just two: one against Toronto and one against Baltimore. Both Toronto and Baltimore combined for 120 wins last year. Boston won 119 games. Last night’s loss to the Yankees had the Red Sox plummet to 6-13. They have now distanced themselves 8.5 games behind Tampa Bay in the division.

The Astros were 2017’s defending champs, and garnered a record of 12-7 through theirRed Sox plummet first 19 games in 2018. A season earlier, after winning the World Series in 2016, the Cubs won 11 of their first 19 the following year. Both the Astros and Cubs made the postseason following their WS titles.’ The last defending champ to have six wins or less through their first 19 games (the following season) was the 1998 Florida Marlins. They started 5-14 and finished with 104 losses. Dombrowski oversaw both the ’98 Marlins team and this ’19 Red Sox team.

Red Sox Plummet To 6-13: “When you’re going bad, it’s pretty bad”

Chris Sale is now 0-4 with an ERA of 8.50. After his start on Tuesday, he spoke with reporters and shared his disgust:

“It’s as frustrated as I’ve ever been on a baseball field,” Sale said. “It sucks. I’m not gonna sugarcoat it. I flat-out stink right now. I don’t know what it is. When you’re going good, it’s good. When you’re going bad, it’s pretty bad.”

Despite the ace’s struggles, he did throw 93 pitches and recorded six strikeouts, which were both season highs. He was also able to uptick his velocity to the 97 MPH range for the first time in 2019.

In terms of positional players, Dustin Pedroia exited Wednesday’s game due to left knee soreness after his first at-bat. He is most likely on his way back to the Injured List. Mookie Betts is batting .200, Jackie Bradley Jr. is hitting .148, and everyday third baseman Rafael Devers has an OPS well below .700.

After a strong start as a cohesive unit, the bullpen has been bad lately. Since throwing a collective shutout in Arizona on April 7th, the brigade has warranted a run in seven of the eight games since. Heath Hembree, Tyler Thornburg, Colten Brewer, Marcus Walden, Erasmo Ramirez, and Brandon Workman have all warranted at least 3 earned runs in that span. They have surrendered a total of 21 earned runs in those eight games.

Red Sox Plummet To 6-13: Some bright notes

Nathan Eovaldi had his best outing last night. Six innings, three hits, and zero earned runs. In addition, he struck out six and eclipsed the 100-pitch mark for the first time.

J.D. Martinez and Christian Vázquez both homered last night. Martinez’s OPS sits above 1.000 and Vázquez’s .438 slugging percentage ranks 5th amongst American League catchers.

After an off-day today, the Sox begin a three-game set at the Trop on Friday. Eduardo Rodriguez will look to build off his impressive start last Friday against Baltimore. Rick Porcello and David Price are scheduled to start on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. They face a Tampa team that is off to their best start in franchise history and has the best record in baseball. Boston has the most road losses to date with 10.

The Sox have no choice but to continue to stay positive and look ahead. It’s better to be slumping now rather than in September. After Sunday’s game, the team will head home for a 10-game home-stand. One would say that now would be the perfect time to stop slumping.