Best bullpen in the AL!
The Red Sox had one of the best bullpens in the American League in 2017 and it will only get better – much better. Start with the end and at the end is Craig Kimbrel (5-0, 1.43). Is he the best in the league? Maybe the best in baseball history? But then you must get there.
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The Red Sox now have a healthy Carson Smith and the ground ball machine can toss pristine innings. Smith can also close in case that needs arises. Joe Kelly (4-1, 2.79) may finally have found his niche out of the bullpen after years of starting and relieving.
Matt Barnes (7-3, 3.88), Heath Hembree (2-3, 3.63), Brandon Workman (1-1, 3.18) and the potential for Wright and Johnson gives experience and depth to the bullpen. Newcomer Bobby Poyner appears the real deal to provide the lefty spot duty. And waiting in the wings in a recovering Tyler Thornburg.
They have experience, depth and a proven – note that word – proven track record.
Expect a crash and burn for the bullpen
The idea is to get to the closer and Kimbrel will not lead the AL in saves. Kimbrel will relax in the bullpen as the starter puts the Red Sox in the hole and the bullpen finishes the job of shoveling dirt in that hole.
Bullpen’s are as flighty as a teenaged girl with a crush du jour. And this year that will be proven. Kelly may throw a hundred on the gun but has some real Steve Dalkowski moments with his control – a 4.2 BB/9 in 2017. Barnes and Hembree are Yin and Yang game to game with Hembree giving up 10 dingers in just 62 innings. And Barnes? A 3.6 BB/9!
Poyner never played in AAA ball but earned his spot. Early on the Yankees come to town and we know what that righty-heavy lineup is capable of. Relying on an inexperienced kid for situational duty is a risk and this one has disaster written all over it.
Smith has shown nothing over a full season and that is what it will take to prove he is back. And Thornburg? Wish him well in his recovery process, but he’ll be tossing innings in the minors until he’s 100%.