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Early season struggles has the Red Sox bullpen leaving much to be desired.
The Red Sox bullpen has struggled lately – largely due to a lack of high-end depth.
The likes of Heath Hembree, Brian Johnson and Matt Barnes have caused stress on Red Sox Nation, in addition to contributing to losses against the New York Yankees & Toronto Blue Jays. The last couple seasons it has been easier to give Matt Barnes the benefit of the doubt, but time is wearing thin on his ability to quickly lose the strike zone.
Heath Hembree, don’t even get me started. The reliever has compiled an ERA over 5 and has consistently proven that he can’t find the zone at times. He entered back-to-back games against the Yankees, recording a total of two outs while giving up 3 hits, 4 runs, and 3 walks. Not good.
Yes, Hembree had a bounce-back outing against the Blue Jays on Sunday, but that shouldn’t give him a pass for the horror that he unleashed on the Red Sox fan base last week.
The Brian Johnson experiment has likely come to a conclusion. The only way Johnson could possible succeed in the MLB is as a starter. The reliever experiment has largely been a failure. The Red Sox found success with Bobby Poyner earlier in the season and it would be wise to allow him to return to Boston.
The previous three question marks loom large over a bullpen that does have plenty of upside. Carson Smith has fired 9 consecutive scoreless outings, while Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel have partnered to solidify the back-end of the bullpen.
Despite being a valuable innings-eater, Hector Velazquez may find himself sent back down to Pawtucket due to his available options and flexibility. This will allow Steven Wright to be activated, as well as allow for the return of Tyler Thornburg.
At the trade deadline, it may be wise for Dave Dombrowski to add a proven reliever to the end of the bullpen. This will all depend on how the previously mentioned relievers perform; however a move similar to Addison Reed last year should not be out of the question.