The Boston Red Sox have had their ups and downs in the pitching department this season but Marcus Walden has been a constant positive out of the bullpen.
We’re past the quarter mark of the season and the Red Sox have climbed their way out of the basement and are marching towards the top of the division. Early in the season, it was the bullpen that was stepping up in a major way but in recent times they’ve fallen off in their performances, except for Marcus Walden.
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Walden was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 9th round of the 2007 amateur draft. He would then spend his career toiling in the minors of a handful of different clubs before linking up with the Red Sox in December of 2016. His time in Boston has been spent mostly in Triple-A Pawtucket, until now.
He was optioned back to Pawtucket just prior to Opening Day but would soon get the call back to the majors after Brian Johnson found himself on the IL. Getting a very brief taste of that MLB life in 2018 was all the motivation Walden needed. He was always looked at with the potential of being a long reliever and that is the role he’s taken on.
Walden first jumped onto my radar when he came in for Hector Velazquez and threw an impressive 3 IP and giving up just one hit with 3 strikeouts. This was one of his more dominant performances and was his longest of the season to that point. He had a few outings early on that weren’t pretty but he’s found his mojo and is in the zone.
Since that May 1st performance against Oakland, he’s only given up a single run and has a mind-boggling 14-0 K/BB ratio. He has been without a shadow of a doubt the most consistent reliever that Alex Cora has called upon. Now, he’s not the only reliable arm in the bullpen as Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, and Brandon Workman are all trustworthy in any scenario. But it’s Walden that has been damn near untouchable in 2019.
Going into tonight’s game Marcus has built up an impressive 5-0 record with an even more impressive 1.46 ERA. This is the most consecutive time that he has spent in the majors and he isn’t wasting a single pitch. With the unpredictability that is the game of baseball Walden is as close to a constant that there is.
Not only is he keeping runs from crossing the plate but he’s also keeping the Red Sox in games that they may otherwise be blown out in. He has twice in the month of May gone 3.0 IP, twice gone 2.0 IP or more, and just once thrown for a single inning. He has become the arm that Alex Cora calls upon when the starter gets knocked out early or if the other bullpen arms are exhausted.
The Red Sox have been looking for someone like Walden and it’s about time that they found him. They have plenty of arms that can get that impactful inning of work done by blowing away the opposition, but there aren’t many I’d trust beyond that. Walden is more of a master craftsman using pitching technique over power to eliminate opposing batters.
The Red Sox still have a long way to go if they want to get back to the Fall Classic this October. The pieces to the puzzle are all on the board and it’s up to Alex Cora to put them all together. Finding an arm that can come into the game at any point and give the team a chance to win is a big piece to finally have though. Marcus Walden offers the Red Sox that exact piece and with him, Cora may finally be able to put that puzzle together.