Red Sox Predictions: Who will be the closer in 2019 if Craig Kimbrel leaves?

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 06: Craig Kimbrel
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 06: Craig Kimbrel /
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MILWAUKEE, WI – MAY 09: Ben Taylor (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI – MAY 09: Ben Taylor (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The Future Is Bleak

The road to closer is often paved with a dip into other pitching assignments. You may set up, be a bridge to the seventh or eighth, potential fodder in a lost cause, a converted starter and finally, someone who may have some of the aforementioned baseball experiences.

Ben Taylor is a 25-year-old right-hander who was initially a starter in the Boston system. The former seventh-round selection came to Boston in 2017 for 14 games with what one would expect from a novice MLB pitcher – peaks and valleys with the valley being a mind-boggling four runs allowed without recording an out in a loss to Oakland.

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Taylor did manage to get a hold and a save in his Boston stay using his low 90s fastball with a curve and change. Expect Taylor to be sequestered at Pawtucket where he may get limited exposure as a closer. Taylor throws in the low 90’s.

Austin Maddox was somewhat of a surprise for the Red Sox. The 27-year-old righty showed an impressive mid-90s fastball to go in conjunction with an excellent change.  Maddox appeared in 13 games and in 17.1 innings allowed a lone earned run. Even more impressive is just two walks issued, but that may be an illusion. Maddox possesses an up to mid-90s fastball along with a curve and change.

At Pawtucket (AAA) and Portland (AA), Maddox had a less than impressive 4.7 BB/9. With Pawtucket Maddox tacked on six saves and two blown saves as the semi closer for the PawSox. Expect Maddox to get a long look in spring training to determine if his saddened finding of the plate is the real thing.

right-handed Chandler Shepherd has two minor league career stats that are impressive: A 2.2 BB/9 and a 0.7 HR/9. The 25-year-old  may only see Boston in 2018 if the staff has an Ebola breakout or as a late-season call-up. But Shepherd has potential and will probably be in Pawtucket where he bagged two saves and a 4.07 ERA in 2017.

Williams Jerez is a 6’4” Lefty who is now 25-years-old.  Jerez spent a split season between Portland (AA) and Pawtucket (AAA) in 2017.  Jerez is a former outfielder who switched to the mound when it became obvious that hitting was not his forte, so that is a few developmental years tossed away.

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Jerez will be at Pawtucket in 2018 to possibly semi-close or be a situational reliever.  Jerez can bring his fastball into the mid-90s range and has a slider and curve. A real long shot.

Sources: Sox Prospects