There was one glaring issue to begin the 2021 season for the Boston Red Sox, the bullpen. It was the biggest issue next to what was supposed to be starting pitching. This was going to be a year where the offense would have to carry the rest of the team. Although, that was not the case to begin the season. Everything was clicking on all cylinders to start the year for the Red Sox. The only question there was now is, was it sustainable?
Alas, it was not. As the Sox came out of the All-Star break and trade deadline faltering. Although they have picked it up slightly since we are now back to square one. The area we thought the Sox would struggle with to begin the year, has officially come back to haunt them in the middle of a tight postseason push.
In the last 30 days, the Red Sox pitching staff ranks 25th in ERA at 5.17 in the league. So it is no doubt that we have seen a free fall in the bullpen since after the all-star break. So, how does that change? With 5 weeks remaining, what can the Sox do to patch up what is currently a sinking bullpen?
It is Time to Move Matt Barnes from the Closer Role
It is no secret now that Matt Barnes has been in a complete spiral as of late. The Boston closer in his last 15 games boasts a 6.57 ERA let alone in his last 7 games he has a very bloated 18.69 ERA. Barnes also is second in the league in blown saves with 6. Most of those coming post-all-star break when his downfall began.
With that being said, it is time for a change at the back end of the bullpen when it comes to the closer role. Although, you look at the bullpen as a whole and ask, out of everyone struggling, who do you replace Barnes with? In my opinion, there is one answer to that, Garrett Whitlock.
It has by no means been an easy road for Whitlock as of late either. He has in fact though, been more successful in the late innings compared to some of the other choices. In his last 15 games, he holds a 1.88 ERA. The only outlier is that one Yankees game on August 18th. Whitlock has shown he has what it takes to step into high leverage roles and take command as we saw on August 23rd against the Rangers.
It is by no means the answer to the problem but making his move could help alleviate some stress on the team.
Help is Possibly on the Way for the Bullpen?
So for the back end of the bullpen, you are looking at Whitlock as the closer, Ottavino and or Barnes as the setup man. Outside of that, it gets dicey as to where you plug and play. Garrett Richards has been lights out since moving to the bullpen, but you want to save him for the long relief role.
There is help on the way, help that could occur in the back of the bullpen. That being Ryan Brasier. Brasier could add the depth that the Sox needs to that back end of the bullpen. If he can come back to form like he was a couple of years ago, then he will be the jolt in the bullpen the Sox needs. If not, well, we are once again back to square one.
My Solution to fixing the Red Sox Bullpen?
I have been thinking about it, and have seen this sort of set up a lot on twitter… So with that, here is my solution to the Red Sox bullpen problem.
9th inning– Garrett Whitlock
8th Inning– Ryan Brasier/Adam Ottavino
7th Inning– Tanner Houck/Matt Barnes/Josh Taylor
The Tanner Houck move would allow for the Sox to call-up surging prospect, Connor Seabold, to make the start. Give him the chance, since for some reason the Sox are only letting Houck go 5 innings max.
The only way this Boston Red Sox team is going to make a legit push to the postseason is if they are able to patch up the holes that are in the bullpen. Either Matt Barnes needs to turn it around, or the team needs to move him from his closer role. Something needs to be done about this struggling Red Sox bullpen.
Whether or not it is too late or not. Change is coming one way or another. It is just a matter of when, or how.
The push to the postseason is heating up, and this team CANNOT be left on the outside looking in come October. If they are, well, we are looking at another possible repeat of 2011.
-Jeff Hoak (@JeffHoak1)
Featured Image: (Boston.com)
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