Red Sox: Heath Hembree seems ready for 2016
April is on its way and Red Sox Nation has an idea on who will be on the Opening Day roster. But there may be a player that people might forget about when the 25 man roster is officially announced.
In 2014, when the Boston Red Sox were basically trading away their entire pitching rotation, they picked up a couple pitchers by the names of Heath Hembree and Edwin Escobar from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for RHP Jake Peavy. To this day, people still don’t know who these two players are.
That’s because they haven’t done anything for us…yet. We have seen them make a few appearances, but nothing worth remembering. But now you might want to remember one of the two players from that deal when the 2016 season gets going.
Obviously it’s still too early to make crazy predictions, but Hembree has made coaches pay attention to him this spring, and for good reason. So far Hembree has pitched 3 innings and hasn’t allowed a run. He also picked up the win yesterday in a close 8-7 victory against the Baltimore Orioles.
Now it is tough to imagine Hembree having a role in the 7th, 8th, or 9th inning because pitchers Carson Smith, Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara, and Craig Kimbrel seem to have those jobs locked up for themselves. But don’t be surprised if Hembree were to slide into the last spot of the bullpen come Opening Day.
More from Red Sox News
- Boston Red Sox setting Trevor Story up for failure amidst Xander Bogaert departure
- Red Sox missed perfect free-agent signing to torment Yankees
- Red Sox finally get validation after Andrew Benintendi-White Sox contract
- Red Sox fans’ concern about Justin Turner signing speaks volumes
- Latest Red Sox-Rafael Devers contract update might be final straw for fans
When we first traded away Peavy for Hembree and Escobar, I immediately said to myself, “Who?!” and then checked out these players online to see what they have done in the past. Escobar was the type of player you just shrug your shoulders to and move onto the next player. With an ERA constantly in the 4’s and 5’s, it is not really someone you’d really want to have on your ball club.
With Hembree, there were some similar numbers, but one category that really stands out is the 115 saves he compiled in his minor league career. You really don’t see that from a pitcher in the minor leagues. You usually see players trying to figure out what type of pitcher they are and then bring what they think they have to the majors. With Hembree, he’s known what type of pitcher he is for years now, which is a late inning guy who can bring a fastball constantly in the high 90’s and an above-average slider.
In 2015, Hembree made a few appearances in the first half of season, but later became a regular guy coming out of the ‘pen from August through the beginning of October. During the month of September, Hembree was arguably the best guy out of the ‘pen for the Sox, making 11 appearances, posting a 1.74 ERA, and collecting 2 wins.
If Hembree were to make it onto the 25-man roster, it would be another power arm that can go a few innings if needed. With the Red Sox rotation technically only making one change from last season’s staff, there are still question marks with Clay Buchholtz, Joe Kelly, and Rick Porcello on how long they can stay in games. If it’s like last year where they can only survive 5 innings a start, you’re going to need a guy like Hembree who can go in for an inning or two before Smith, Tazawa, Uehara, and Kimbrel are ready to go.
Next: Red Sox should use Elias as a reliever
A good bullpen is arguably the most important thing to have on a baseball team. Just ask the 2015 Kanas City Royals. They had a mediocre starting rotation but a lights out bullpen, which lead them to a World Series championship. I’m not saying that Hembree will definitely be on the Opening Day roster because, like I said before, he’s only pitched 3 innings so far this Spring. But if he continues to locates his fastball and slider like he’s done so far this month, he might be the diamond in the rough for the Sox in 2016.