Red Sox bullpen has three spots up for grabs for Opening Day roster
By Sean Penney
Velazquez proved his usefulness out of the bullpen last year when he posted a 2.63 ERA in 39 relief appearances. He’s also one of the top choices to make a spot start when needed though. We’ll see Velazquez at some point this season but I’m not convinced he’ll be on the Opening Day roster.
That leaves a coin flip between Brewer and Poyner, neither of whom have exactly dazzled this spring.
Poyner’s ugly 6.52 ERA if inflated by a five-run shellacking at the hands of the New York Yankees. Outside of that meltdown, he has allowed only two earned runs over nine innings. He could get the nod if the Red Sox decide they need an extra lefty in the bullpen, which may depend on how they intend to use Johnson. We should note though that Cora seemed comfortable without a lefty specialist last year so which hand a pitcher throws with won’t be the determining factor.
Brewer has been a bit better this spring, sporting a 4.00 ERA with 10 strikeouts in nine innings. His first taste of big league action didn’t go well with the San Diego Padres last year but the Red Sox were enticed enough by his potential to trade for him. They’ve altered his mechanics, encouraging him to pitch more upright, and seem pleased with the results.
That’s enough to make Brewer my final choice to earn a spot to begin the season, joining Thornburg, Walden, Barnes, Brasier, Hembree, Johnson, and Workman. Brewer or Walden could get squeezed simply because they still have minor league options yet these are the eight most deserving options.