Red Sox: Alex Cora’s to do list for the 2018 season
Alex Cora needs to commit to Joe Kelly as the eighth inning man.
This right here may have cost the Red Sox their season this year.
In the eighth inning against the Astros, the Sox were up 3-2, and were on the brink of sending the series back to Houston for Game 5. But the Red Sox coaching staff, sans Farrell following his ejection, left Sale in the game for the eighth.
Sale was clearly laboring through the seventh, despite putting together a fairly solid relief outing. In the eighth, it all came apart. Sale gave up a home run to Alex Bregman to tie it, and then the Astros later took the lead in the inning.
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Had the Red Sox gone to their eighth-inning man, Addison Reed, he would have been fresh and ready to go. Reed would have gotten the three outs, then handed the ball to Craig Kimbrel for the ninth.
That could have changed the entire face of the 2017 postseason.
Assuming Reed does not return to the Red Sox, Cora should find one guy from the start for the eighth inning role. It was a revolving door in 2017. Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes, and Heath Hembree all tried in the eighth.
None was really successful, but Kelly was the best of the three. Kelly also struggled through injuries, which may have made things worse for him.
From Opening Day, if Reed does not return, the Red Sox should set Kelly as their set up man. This will give much-needed stability to the entire bullpen. Relief pitchers pitch so much better when they have stability, and this would be a simple fix for the bullpen.