The BoSox Injection team grades the 2018 season for each member of the Boston Red Sox. Up next is right-handed reliever Heath Hembree.
Coming into the 2018 season, Heath Hembree was in a pretty good position to have a spot in the Boston Red Sox bullpen, with some expectations of having a more meaningful role than previous seasons.
Everyone knew he had some impressive stuff, including a high 90’s fastball, but Hembree still had not completely put it together at the major league level. He failed to take the next step to become a late-inning weapon for the Red Sox but was solid as a middle reliever.
He was passed on the depth chart by Ryan Brasier and was no longer considered in late innings once Brasier emerged. He finished with a 4.20 ERA, a 4.19 FIP, and a 104 ERA+.
Hembree was added to the playoff roster after Steven Wright was removed from the roster due to injury. He threw 4.2 shutout innings among the three postseason series. He was not an outstanding pitcher by any stretch but was fairly reliable with multi-run cushions. The majority of his innings came in the 6th or 7th, with Matt Barnes controlling the 8th, and Brasier eventually getting the 7th.
A grade of C+ seems fair for this season. He was solid, not spectacular, but also not terrible. He was prone to the occasional implosion but typically could get through an inning with limited damage. However, he was not a shutdown reliever who was reliable in late high leverage situations.
Looking ahead to 2019:
Hembree could have to earn a spot in the bullpen in 2019 if the Red Sox bring in a free agent or two to strengthen the bullpen. In addition to free agent signings, the Red Sox have Travis Lakins and Durbin Feltman in the minors, who could both crack the major league roster either on Opening Day or at some point this season and cause Hembree to be designated for assignment.
Hembree has no minor league options left. It seems he will likely make the Opening Day roster, but may not last the whole season, depending on his own performance, the performance of others, trade acquisitions, and promotions from the minors.