After going the majority of the season without a closer, the Red Sox should take a gamble on one of their most electrifying arms.
Closer-by-committee is never an ideal conclusion for any baseball team, let alone the defending World Series champions. Regardless, the Boston Red Sox have deployed that strategy to the tune of six different relievers recording a save this season. While many may deem that to be wise flexibility, the same bullpen unit has blown a staggering 18 saves in 2019. While it may only be for a short time, the Sox should deploy a traditional ninth inning man.
Brandon Workman has taken the reins of the traditional role, as he leads the Red Sox in save opportunities since the beginning of July. While he’s largely succeeded in this role, he may become more valuable as the Swiss Army knife-type of reliever that Alex Cora loves to utilize within his bullpen. Matt Barnes has been utilized in this manner all season, but adding another successful reliever would fill a necessity and assist a struggling Sox rotation in shortening ballgames.
In his breakout campaign, Workman has posted a 1.99 ERA and has limited the opposition to a .117 BAA throughout the season. He’s been the best reliever on this club and can help put out metaphorical fires that the starters, or other relievers, may leave behind. While Colten Brewer has been solid at times, Workman, Barnes, and even Nathan Eovaldi would be a more formidable tandem.
As for the ninth, Darwinzon Hernandez has the arsenal to dominate the opposition when it matters most. In his transition to a reliever, the Boston Red Sox have seen him excel to the tune of 0 ER over 10.1 innings, a .205 BAA, while striking out 19 batters. While in Boston, Hernandez boasts a ridiculous 17.55 K/9. There are control concerns, as he has walked eight as a reliever, but these same issues are present with Brandon Workman and Matt Barnes.
There’s a case to be made that Hernandez isn’t ready, and that may very well be true, but for the Red Sox to climb out of a hole in the race for the Wild Card, they need to get creative. Alex Cora needs help shortening games and putting a dominant force on the mound in the ninth. Additionally, Hernandez may very well prove to be the closer of the future if he has the opportunity. At this point, he’s earned the right to see high leverage innings and the Red Sox have nothing to lose.
Deploy Darwinzon Hernandez in the ninth and he may very well stick in that role for years to come.