Red Sox Need Another Reliever

21-7 in April looks great. That record start had Red Sox fans dreaming of the duck boatsred sox reliever in November. The offense is clicking on all cylinders, starters look potent and manager Alex Cora is pushing all the right buttons. However, are they flawless? The Red Sox could target another reliever.

To start off May, Kimbrel blew a 3-2 save opportunity, after Royals’ Alex Gordon hammered a fastball into the stands. While that may certainly simply be a rare fluke by Kimbrel, what about the rest of the bullpen?

Red Sox Should Target Another Reliever

Matt Barnes has been reliable. He has posted a sub-three ERA in 12 games thus far. Cora seems to like him as his 8th inning guy and with each successful outing, confidence seems to grow for Barnes. Confidence and control have been issues in Barnes’ recent career though.

Velazquez has done well, posting 8 straight innings without allowing a run. But as the season goes on, Cora may rather keep him as a long relief option, or as the “6th guy” in case of an injury to the rotation. Other than that, the bullpen has been suspect. Joe Kelly has become a fan favorite after his altercation with Yankees’ Tyler Austin. Fans have seen all the “Joe Kelly fight club” tee-shirts, but his swing and miss production on his fastball must improve.

Could Tyler Thornburg be the guy?

In the 2016 off-season, Dombrowski dealt promising 1B/3B Travis Shaw to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for their then dominant set up man Tyler Thornburg. Thornburg was supposed to be the 8th inning bridge to Kimbrel on paper. He, however, has yet to make his Red Sox debut after undergoing Tommy John surgery last season. Thornburg recently struck out the side in his AAA game, in Pawtucket and could be fast-tracked to the big leagues. However, it is tough to count on success after injury, even with prior dominance.

A Tip for Dombrowski

Last trade deadline, Dombrowski acquired Addison Reed from the Mets. Reed had the past success, durability and swing and miss stuff desired in a set-up man. Reed posted a 3.33 ERA in 29 games in the second half of the season for the Red Sox. He came up big before the playoffs and also was the guy to give Kimbrel some much needed rest in September.

I expect Dombrowski to do the same this deadline and acquire a Reed-like arm for their title run.

Brandon Workman A Reliever?

brandon workmanOn Saturday August 23, Brandon Workman had an outing he will remember for the rest of his career. It was smooth sailing, relatively speaking, for the first three innings — until disaster struck in the fourth. In the fourth inning of that game, Workman surrendered seven runs making it the biggest blunder of his big league career. As a result, he was optioned to AAA Pawtucket in favor of reliever Heath Hembree. Now, it is up for debate on whether or not Workman will be starting next season. Odds are though, he is destined for the bullpen.
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To put it nicely, Brandon Workman is not pitching well as a starter this year. In 12 starts for the Boston Red Sox he is 1-7 with a 5.13 ERA while allowing nine homeruns over the course of 66.2 innings pitched. In contrast as a reliever, Workman has pitched much better. In a small sample size of four games totaling 6.1 innings, he has allowed only two earned runs making for a 2.84 ERA.

This alone is not the reason why he would be best suited for relief. One of the few other reasons is his numbers in the playoffs last year. Making the playoff roster over Drake Britton by the hairs on his chin, Workman proved valuable in relief tossing seven scoreless outings totaling 8.2 innings. Although this may not sound like much, he proved his worth in high leverage situations. Three of those outings came in the ALCS and another three came in the World Series. Not many rookies thrive in such high leverage situations.
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Stamina also comes as an issue as well. Before and after 30 pitches, Brandon Workman is a completely different pitcher. Before he is a star and after — he is garbage. When throwing 30 pitches or less, hitters are hitting just .223 off Workman but from pitches 31-60, that number balloons up to .292 which is not good. Keep in mind there are only 27 MLB players hitting .292 or above who qualify for the batting title, but there are 144 men hitting hitting .223 above who qualify out of 152 total. This means Workman can make Mike Trout look like Bob Uecker when his pitch count is low, but he can do the polar opposite when it is high. Now that may be a bit of an exaggeration but it gets the point across and numbers never lie.
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Right now, the bullpen seems like the best bet for Brandon Workman in 2015. Although Boston has five legitimate Major League starters without him, it is tough to imagine they go into the season without adding a starter or two. By doing so, they could make Workman a full-time reliever giving him a role he can truly thrive in. He would not be the multi-inning guy he is right now, but instead a 7th inning guy who goes out there and gives the team one good inning when called upon. An example of this on the current Red Sox team would be Burke Badenhop. Expect Workman to serve a role similar to Burke Badenhop during the 2015 season.