2. Red Sox finish with a top 10 bullpen
Throughout the offseason, the lack of major league depth in the Red Sox bullpen has been talked about a lot. It looks extremely unlikely that Craig Kimbrel re-signs.
Currently, there are only three guys guaranteed to make the roster: Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, and Heath Hembree. Barnes seems to be the favorite to close right now, but Brasier has also been listed as an option by Dave Dombrowski.
Now, despite this lack of well-known guys, the Red Sox do have some really intriguing options that were brought in this offseason, mainly on minor league deals, in addition to Red Sox minor leaguers. To start with the minor leaguers, they have Durbin Feltman and Travis Lakins. Feltman was drafted last year, after a dominant season as the closer at TCU. It is unclear if he makes an impact on opening day, but has a good shot to get called up at some point during the season. Lakins was moved to the bullpen after struggling for years as a starter and has flourished since then. There is Trevor Kelley and Darwinzon Hernandez, both of whom have looked really solid in Spring Training.
In addition to those five, the Red Sox have lots of guys fighting for spots with major league experience. These include lefty Bobby Poyner, former White Sox Zach Putnam, Brandon Workman, Colten Brewer, who was acquired during the offseason, Carson Smith, who is injured, and Tyler Thornburg. Former Marlin Brian Ellington and Jenrry Mejia were also signed during the offseason.
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Thornburg has looked less than impressive so far this spring and may not make the roster. Smith was solid last year before getting hurt. Workman had a 3.27 ERA last year but his 4.42 FIP suggests there was some luck there. Poyner is the only other one from this group who pitched for the Red Sox last year when he had a 3.22 ERA and 4.01 FIP. He held lefties to just a .136 average which is very valuable. He seems to have the best chance to make the roster out of this group.
Of the new acquisitions, there is also a lot to like. Mejia had been putting together a solid career before being banned for numerous failed drug tests. Ellington works with a high 90s fastball and had a solid 2017 before getting injured and subsequently released. He spent 2018 in Arizona, where he struggled in very limited time in the minors. Putnam is a similar situation to Ellington, but with a longer track record of success. He has yet to pitch in the spring due to a hamstring injury.
All of these guys have legitimate upside and its likely that at least a couple breakout. It is also fair to expect Brasier and Barnes to continue to pitch well. Brian Johnson and/or Hector Velazquez will also likely make the bullpen and are solid inning eaters and spot starters. Hembree is not an elite reliever by any means but is solid nonetheless. While it certainly is not an elite bullpen like the Yankees, and the relievers may not be all that well known, I firmly believe this group has plenty of talent and can surprise a lot of people.