The Boston Red Sox have bullpen issues, but it can be centralized to a few players and not the collective. Just who needs to move on?
In another life, I managed to occasionally wander through RPG (Report Program Generator) language and a term applied too often, especially to my coding skills, was GIGO. Simply put, the acronym stands for garbage in, garbage out and the Red Sox have some issues with that in their bullpen.
The bullpen was supposed to be the weak link that would decimate the season with the departure of Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly. Kimbrel remains on the sidelines and Kelly is routinely pummeled by the opposition. However, the Red Sox bullpen has remained rather stable and is ranked sixth in the American League (1.8 fWAR). Not great, but not a disaster until you dig a bit deeper.
There will always be a player or two – both positional and pitching – that will merely be a place setter whose contributions will fall into minimal, non-existent, and finally forgettable. In this instance, the bullpen now has two that simply make one run to the medicinal locker when they are summoned to a game. Nearing the fifty game mark it has become readily apparent that both Tyler Thornburg and Colten Brewer are firmly in the disaster category.
Thornburg’s failures are related directly to injuries that have cleanly stripped away his once-promising career. Brewer is different in that his issues are not injury related, but performance. The Red Sox cannot be faulted in the acquisition of Brewer from the Padres for minor league and Mexican League veteran Esteban Quiroz.
Brewer is what teams do in the offseason and collect potential aspirants for filling in during the season. This approach certainly was productive with Ryan Brasier last season and with Hector Velazquez, but one must soon make a decision on just what is best going forward. Both Thornburg and Brewer are now relegated to mop-up duty since high leverage situations have and should be avoided.
Being critical is one issue and I most certainly am. Both Thornburg and Brewer know the drill regarding what have you done for me lately? Neither has done much to warrant their continuation on the roster, but who do you replace them with? The fact is you take a risk and that may be rushing a minor league player or taking a long look at other players similar to Brewer that have been signed and are sequestered in Pawtucket.
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The Red Sox have already given some pitching time to veterans Ryan Weber, Erasmo Ramirez, and Josh Smith. Promising hopefuls Travis Lakins, Bobby Poyner, and Darwinzon Hernandez and they may get more. Jenrry Mejia – he of multiple suspensions – awaits in Pawtucket, but Mejia has had his share of rocky appearances. Can one of the veterans emulate Marcus Walden?
The Pawtucket rotation is led by prospect Mike Shawaryn a 24-year-old right-hander. Shawaryn is on the active roster so not significant roster manipulation is necessary. A maybe a spot start is in order? Is 36th round draft choice right-hander Trevor Kelly worth a look?
One thing is most certain and that is Thornburg and especially Brewer have a shelf life that is nearing expiration on the Red Sox roster. Space will be needed as Brian Johnson, David Price, and Nathan Eovaldi work their way back into the pitching mix. So far neither Brewer or Thornburg have demonstrated enough to be retained.