Red Sox Bullpen Showing Vulnerability

Photo Credit: AP / Patrick Semansky

Despite firing on all cylinders for most of the season, the Red Sox bullpen has shown potential holes.

For most of the season, the Red Sox bullpen has been considered a strength. Dave Dombrowski pieced together a bullpen that features elite closer, Craig Kimbrel, and a combination of Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, amongst others.

This is a unit that has compiled a cumulative 3.17 ERA . That number is good enough for the 5th best measure in all of baseball – trailing only the Houston Astros and New York Yankees within the American League.

Despite early success, Kelly has begun to present an issue in the bullpen.

It must be stated that Joe Kelly has an elite arsenal. He features a fastball that touches triple digits, a hard slider, and a wipeout changeup. In the early months of the season, Joe was everything that the Red Sox could’ve hoped for – including starting a brawl with the Yankees. He posted a 0.63 ERA in May, but has since struggled in June to the tune of an 8.31 ERA.

Hitters are squaring the ball up – as seen by the rocket hit by Bryce Harper; however a simple question will prompt potential trade targets to solve any issues.

Do you trust Matt Barnes / Joe Kelly to close out a game?


Answer: No

Clearly, the Red Sox would have Craig Kimbrel to close out a ballgame, but in the postseason the most crucial outs are often needed well before the 9th inning. The solution to get a proven option likely lies within San Diego.

Red Sox acquire Brad Hand & Kirby Yates:

In this scenario, the Sox would acquire a left handed option that has appeared in many situations for the Padres. He’s shown the ability to become flexible, being used in a setup role, or to close out games. Additionally, the Sox would land Yates, a converted starter, that has posted a 0.79 ERA this season.

This trade would be relatively costly and would model the deal in which the Yankees acquired David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle last season. In that deal, New York sent the #36 prospect in baseball, Blake Rutherford, and a few other prospects to Chicago in exchange for the relievers, and Todd Frazier.

The Red Sox would likely have to part with either Jay Groome, Michael Chavis, or Bryan Mata, and then a package of lesser-known prospects.


Answer: Occasionally 

In this situation, you would trust Kelly and Barnes, but likely would seek an Addison Reed type addition to bolster the bullpen.

Red Sox acquire Kyle Barraclough:

In this scenario, Dave Dombrowski would likely give Derek Jeter a call in order to work out a deal. The Marlins will be in full sell mode during the Trade Deadline and will have plenty of bidders for any coveted players. Barraclough has proved to be a solid bullpen arm for the Marlins, posting a 1.21 ERA.

An additional benefit to a young arm is that he possesses team control until 2022. With Kimbrel and Kelly having expiring contracts, this acquisition would provide the Red Sox with insurance in case of either were unable to be resigned.

The Red Sox would likely need to part with a package such as Blake Swihart, C.J. Chatham, and Jalen Beeks. Swihart could be an interesting trade chip if the Marlins ended up dealing JT Realmuto at the Trade Deadline.


Answer: Yes, 100%

In this scenario, the viewer is content with the current state of the bullpen. This answer isn’t a poor decision, as the Red Sox have had one of the better units in baseball; however this is no such problem as “too much of a good thing.” Just ask the Kansas City Royals about how their dominant bullpen of Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera, Ryan Madson, and Luke Hochevar yielded them a World Series title.

Red Sox acquire Tyler Thornburg from the Disabled List:

This “acquisition” would play all of the metaphorical eggs in one basket, hoping that Thornburg will return healthy; however there is no telling whether that is possible, or not. If the former Brewer returns to form, he would serve as an outside boost and could be the difference maker for a stretch run.

A fan can’t be blamed if they have faith in the current state of the roster.


The Trade Deadline is always a fun time and there are certain to be plenty of rumors involving the Red Sox.

Keep on eye on the bullpen as the rumors swirl and be sure to comment your answer to the important question below!

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About Cody Collins

Red Sox fanatic from Maine. Co-Founder of SoxSphere. Hit us up with a follow and check out @SoxSphere_CC while you're at it!
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