Craig Kimbrel is coming off a dominant season in which he was easily the league’s best closer. The flame-throwing right-hander converted 35 of 39 save opportunities for an 89.7 save percentage that ranks first in the league among relievers with double-digit save totals. Kimbrel’s 1.43 ERA, 0.68 WHIP and 126 strikeouts were also the best in the AL among closers. Getting to the ninth inning with a lead won’t be easy, but if it happens then you can count on Kimbrel to finish the job.
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Moving to the bullpen has revitalized David Price, who missed large chunks of the season with elbow troubles. He wasn’t able to make his way back in time to build up to a starter’s workload but he’ll be an invaluable weapon as a reliever. Price didn’t allow a run over 8 2/3 innings of relief after joining the bullpen in September. He struck out 13 and walked only two. He’s proven that he can last multiple innings and pitch on back-to-back days. Farrell can call on Price in a high leverage situation at virtually any point in the game. He’s the best version of Andrew Miller that the Red Sox have had since… well, Andrew Miller.
It took a long time for Carson Smith to work his way back from Tommy John surgery but the right-hander has been worth the wait. He allowed only one run over 6 2/3 innings out of the bullpen, striking out seven. He appears to be back to pre-injury form and is Boston’s best option to handle the eighth inning setup role.