Red Sox: Who claims the closer seat?
Amidst a bevy of bullpen injuries, who will step up to take over the closer role for the Boston Red Sox until their top relievers return?
The Boston Red Sox entered the season with a plan for their bullpen, only to watch it unravel in the early stages of the season’s second half.
Dave Dombrowski did a masterful job of revamping a bullpen that was one of the worst in the league a year ago, acquiring closer Craig Kimbrel from the San Diego Padres and setup man Carson Smith from the Seattle Mariners in separate deals. They were to join incumbent closer Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa to provide the Red Sox with a formidable core of late-inning relievers. On paper this appeared to be one of the strongest bullpens in baseball, but this strength proved to be as flimsy as that sheet of paper, as all four pitchers are currently on the disabled list.
Despite the staggering number of injuries that the bullpen has sustained, Dombrowski does not foresee another trade as a necessity, telling the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman, “At this point, we are comfortable with our internal options.”
When freshly acquired starter Drew Pomeranz was knocked out in the fourth inning in his debut Wednesday night, fans half expected Dombrowski to trade for a reliever mid-game to provide insurance for a bullpen that would need to carry the Red Sox through the final six frames. Then again, the early returns of Dombrowski’s trades since taking over the front office for the Red Sox have been rather hit-or-miss, so perhaps fans are a a bit gun-shy about pulling for him to surrender another valuable prospect to plug a hole he was supposed to have already fixed with prior dealings.
So assuming another trade isn’t on the horizon, while holding out hope that we aren’t heading for the dreaded “closer-by-committee” approach, which of these internal options will step up to fill the 9th inning void until either Kimbrel or Uehara can return from injury?