While a hot topic all season, the Red Sox bullpen usage has been critical to success in the postseason.
Let’s face it, most every Red Sox source highlighted the fact that Dave Dombrowski could have, and should have, done more to bolster the bullpen.
It was never necessarily a weakness, but was far below the standard of the rest of the American League contenders – at least on paper. Past the Red Sox All Star closer, it was a band of misfits that powered the Boston ‘pen throughout the season. There was journeyman Ryan Brasier, converted starter Joe Kelly, injury prone Brandon Workman and Tyler Thornburg, and a number of other relievers that had experienced very little success at the Major League level.
Yet, here we are. The Red Sox hold a 2-0 series lead in the World Series, largely due to the success of the bullpen. How has that happened?
First year manager, Alex Cora, has taken advantage of every opportunity to win a game in the postseason. Far too often do we see a manager that uses his traditional setup man, rather than depending on recent success, or matchup favorability.
The Red Sox have deployed a wide variety of options in order to ensure a win. Every member of the starting rotation has appeared out of the bullpen, except for David Price and have allowed zero earned runs as relievers. These “rovers,” as Cora calls them, have shortened the game and allowed for bullpen flexibility.
Each time, a listener can hear the broadcaster mentioning how Alex Cora is “going for the jugular” by bringing in his starter. The notion is true. He’s been a step ahead, largely aided by Swiss Army Knife, Nathan Eovaldi who delivered scoreless appearances in both Game One and Two of the World Series. A minor Trade Deadline acquisition has paid major dividends for the Boston Red Sox.
While many analysts are speculating who may start Game Four, it would be surprising if it’s anyone but Eovaldi. The hard throwing righty has been dominant throughout the postseason, posting a 1.65 ERA. He’s answered every call thus far and I’d expect to see him back in the rotation in Los Angeles.
The win-now mentality has powered the Red Sox to a World Series lead and a lot of that credit should be directed towards Alex Cora and his bullpen usage.
Gear Up: Cora the Mad Scientist!