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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Red Sox Bullpen Continues to Struggle

Although the Boston Red Sox are definitely making the playoffs and are on their way to clinching the division title, it does not hurt to be battle-tested against the reigning champions, the Houston Astros. It did not go as bad as it could have, but the Astros proved that they remain the team to beat in the American League. The Red Sox avoided a sweep on Sunday night of the three-game series, but did not look good in either of the first two games. Specifically, in game one, the bullpen imploded as it has all season long. Is this a problem that they will be able to overcome in the postseason, or could this be a fatal flaw?
Dave Dombrowski made the bold decision at the end of July (the MLB trading deadline) to not make a trade for a reliever. In doing so, he essentially told everyone that he thinks that his bullpen is strong enough to contribute to a World Series Championship. The Red Sox has been able to get away with it and effectively hide the problem because their offense has come from behind to win time and time again. Against subpar teams, it really has not meant much if the bullpen gives up a couple of runs because the bats have been hot in the late innings. However, the issues are really highlighted against the good teams; that is when the struggles show. October is only going to contain the best of the best, as it’s clearly going to be the Yankees, Indians, Athletics, and the Astros. 
Let’s take a look at how the Red Sox fared against the Astros in their latest series against each other. David Price, who has been a totally different pitcher this season, once again looked great in game one of the series. He had only allowed one hit through the first six innings and was sitting on a healthy 2-0 lead, so he came back out for the seventh. After allowing a leadoff double and a walk, Alex Cora brought in Ryan Brasier with one out to try to get the Red Sox out of the jam. Three runs were scored, giving Houston a 3-2 lead and basically throwing away a great game by Price. The Red Sox tied it up in the home half of the inning, putting the game in the hands of the bullpen once again. Joe Kelly gave up three more runs in the eighth, and the Red Sox lost the game 6-3. A game that had the feel of a playoff atmosphere was completely blown by the bullpen, which is bad news for the Red Sox in October.
Perhaps the one pitcher in the bullpen who is pretty consistent is Craig Kimbrel. Although he throws 100 mph and is always at the top of the MLB in saves, he still has to scare you every time he is on the mound. As a closer, he has a WHIP of 1.02, meaning, on average, he allows a baserunner every time he appears in a game. He often gets himself into jams, as the baserunners that get on usually get to second or third base. Kimbrel has the opportunity to be the Red Sox’s saving grace, but he is going to need to be at his best throughout the playoffs in order to make up for the weak bullpen.