How the Boston Red Sox bullpen is managed in the upcoming World Series will be consequential, when it comes down to the wire.
With the World Series starting tonight, Fenway Park will feel a buzz that only comes around at this time of year. This series is one like no other, and for the Boston Red Sox to cap off an incredible season with the trophy that means everything, all departments of the team will have to work effectively. This Red Sox team is a team with very little weakness. The only area which has come into question by critics is that of Boston’s bullpen.
Although Red Sox relief pitchers have been adequate when needed on various occasions throughout the season, there have been times when they have let a game slip. This is something that the Red Sox cannot afford to have happen at these final stages of an illustrious season.
The way in which Alex Cora and Dana LeVangie decide to manage their pitching staff will have little margin for error, as each game comes as a must win, and an all-hands on deck approach will be seen. Whether the Red Sox are in a spot where they have to use rotation pitchers from the pen in Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi, or are able to go with a one-two reliever set up for Craig Kimbrel, performances from the bullpen will prove integral, especially as the starting talent in these games will, potentially, allow limited runs, and make way for a series of close-to-call matches.
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Kimbrel will have to be his elite-closer self when called upon. He’s been put into question by many in this playoff campaign. However, you could argue that he has done just what he’s needed to do. When called upon this postseason, although he’s allowed 5 earned runs over 5 innings and looked shaky at times, he’s closed out games and secured wins, in each of his appearances.
Ryan Brasier is the breakout reliever this season, and he’s been terrific this postseason, allowing no runs over 7 innings pitched. This together with Joe Kelly, who had an up and down season, but has come out ready and firing this postseason, and Matt Barnes, who’s been a terrific setup spot reliever for Boston, forms a more than average bullpen choice, at this point in the postseason. It gives Cora’s team options at different times and in different scenarios.
While there are aspects of the bullpen formation that could be improved, moving starters into the pen in postseason play has proved vital for Boston. The inclusion of Eovaldi and Porcello in the pen gives a new light to it and in all likelihood that action will be seen from at least one of these two pitchers in this series.
Boston’s pitching could be the most important factor in this series. If they can get good outings from the likes of Chris Sale, David Price and whoever else comes in after that, the Red Sox relievers have the capabilities to put together a string of strong appearances in relief. Good starting pitching will form the basis of the pitching game, and allow Cora and his coaching staff to be able to put the right man for the job into the right scenario. These bullpen pitchers will be fired up, raring to go, for the biggest games a baseball player can play in.