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The Red Sox bullpen hasn’t been flawless to begin the season. Should fans lose faith?

Throughout the first week of the season, the bullpen has drawn heavy amounts of criticism for lackluster outings.

The criticism doesn’t come without merit as most of the staff has had a share in the early season blunders. On Opening Day, Joe Kelly and Carson Smith combined to giveaway a win to the Tampa Bay Rays. Against the Miami Marlins, Matt Barnes managed to walk multiple runners en route to a blown save.

Even during the home opener at Fenway, Carson Smith gave up a two run homerun late in the game. Had it not been for the heroics of Hanley Ramirez, Xander Bogaerts, and company, the Red Sox would have lost a very winnable game.

After a shaky start, many are pondering the decision not to re-sign Addison Reed. Though he wasn’t a superstar in Boston, he proved to be a valuable and proven asset out of the bullpen.

Regardless, Reed is no longer available and the bullpen is largely set.

Let’s take inventory on the current bullpen members and evaluate the level of confidence.

Confidence Levels:

Craig Kimbrel:

The Red Sox closer has been downright dominant in save situations this season. As many know, he tends to struggle in non-saves (seen yesterday), but it hasn’t hurt Boston to this point. He’s the best option in this bullpen and should see a contract extension in the near future.

Confidence in Craig: 10

Carson Smith:

As one of Dave Dombrowski’s first acquisitions, Smith has drawn heavy criticism in Boston this season. The reliever fell victim to Tommy John surgery upon his arrival and flashed moments of brilliance last season.

To begin the 2018 season, he has been largely disappointing. Despite the struggles, Smith owns a career 2.29 ERA and should be counted on as a serviceable set up man.

Confidence in Carson: 8

Joe Kelly:

Where to begin? At times, Kelly looks like a dominant reliever with Hall of Fame worthy stuff. Meanwhile, he has flashes of a AAA reliever with a triple digit fastball and no control.

In a small sample size, Kelly possesses a career 3.23 ERA out of the bullpen in Boston. He’s one of the best bullpen options that the Red Sox possess and has the one of the best chances to be dominant.

Weather the storm with Jim Buchanan, he’ll be fine.

Confidence in Joe: 7

Matt Barnes:

The Red Sox drafted Barnes in the first round out of UConn with intentions of a developing a dominant starter. Years later, the project hasn’t nearly panned out as planned – leading to an erratic bullpen guy.

Over his career, Barnes has been inconsistent with a career 4.27 ERA. If he’s throwing strikes, he can be lights out. Last season, he struggled immensely on the road – a major question mark in a World Series push.

Barnes is such a question mark and, at times, a source of chest pain / headaches.

Confidence in Matt: 5

Heath Hembree:

The right hander was acquired in the Jake Peavy trade that sent the World Series champion to the Giants. As a member of the Red Sox, Hembree has had large ups and downs.

As a power pitcher, he gets plenty of fly balls – which tends to be a problem in the hitter friendly AL East parks. Numerically, he looks fine with a 3.09 ERA; however he often allows inherited runners to score. Bailing out your fellow pitchers is a huge aspect of being a reliever and that has to be fixed.

Confidence in Heath: 5

Bobby Poyner:

The lefty specialist on the roster was an unknown commodity throughout most of Red Sox Nation. Despite never pitching above the AA level, Poyner made the roster during Spring Training and has proved his worth in Boston.

Poyner isn’t overpowering, but gets the job done when called upon.

Confidence in Bobby: 7

Marcus Walden:

The former Indy-Ball pitcher is in his first Major League season. He’s an innings-eater and is unlikely to be used in high leverage situations.

Confidence in Marcus: 3


The DL Bunch:

Austin Maddox and Tyler Thornburg are both on the disabled list, but will certainly make their mark on the current bullpen.

Outside Help?

The Red Sox should pursue Trevor Rosenthal. The former Cardinals closer is out for the season after Tommy John surgery, but is a proven commodity in the back-end of a bullpen.

There are too many current question marks and grabbing a guy like Rosenthal for late this season, or early next season, would be a smart move by Dombrowski.

Do you agree with these confidence levels?

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