The Red Sox bullpen is beginning to take shape as October nears.
If any part of the best-record-in-baseball Boston Red Sox can be questioned, it’s been the fickle bullpen. At times, the unit looks like it is ready to power through October with relievers that are armed with high 90’s fastballs and impressive K/9 numbers. Then there are days where the unit is stuck in mediocrity with relievers that struggle to find the strike zone and self-inflict damage.
From the outside, the unit certainly looks like it could have been bolstered, GM Dave Dombrowski felt confident enough to leave the unit as is. Lately, there have been signs of life through the emergence and re-emergence of a couple of players.
First, a huge pat on the back is in order for the Red Sox scouting department that identified Ryan Brasier in the offseason. As a non-roster invitee in Spring Training, Brasier has climbed through the minor league ranks and has emerged as a stalwart at the back end of the Sox bullpen. He seems to be Alex Cora‘s Swiss army knife, using him in a variety of high leverage spots. After not appearing in a Major League game since 2013, Brasier has been everything the Red Sox could have hoped for and has emerged as a trustworthy set up man.
Despite having an injury riddled season, Steven Wright has proven to be a valuable commodity for the Red Sox. He’s appeared both as a starter, and reliever, for Cora’s team this season and has largely thrived. Excluding a nightmare outing against the Mariners in which he gave up 10 ER, the knuckleball specialist has posted a sparkling 1.18 ERA over 38.2 innings.
In his return from the most recent DL stint, Wright has yet to allow a run over an admittedly small sample size, but is showing that he can be a valuable asset in October. As a potential starting pitcher, Wright can appear in a variety of different roles ranging from long relief to a one-batter assignment. Regardless of his role, his return to the Red Sox bullpen is helping to solidify the unit and move question marks such as Drew Pomeranz, Hector Velazquez, and others, into less-prominent roles.
Nathan Eovaldi gave us a glimpse of what he’s capable of in a short outing in Atlanta. After posting back-to-back scoreless outings in his first starts with the Red Sox, the righty has shown that his value will likely lie in the bullpen throughout the postseason. In a short outing against the Braves, Eovaldi struck out Ronald Acuña on a 101 mph fastball – a weapon that will surely be deployed out of the Red Sox bullpen.
There are still plenty of decisions that will have to be made in regards to the unit, but there is progress being made. A solidified Red Sox bullpen could certainly yield a deep run in the upcoming postseason.
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