The Red Sox “blowpen” gives away another victory for the team
The Boston Red Sox have struggled with their bullpen all season but after last night there is no excuse for the lack of urgency to repair it.
The Red Sox had the game in the bag. Seriously, it was 6-1 and starter Brian Johnson had put on a strong outing to give the team all that they needed. Then Alex Cora went to the pen and things began to crumble and crumble fast. And in the blink of an eye that massive lead was gone.
For what it’s worth it wasn’t the entire bullpen that gave the game away as Josh Smith struck out the side and Ryan Brasier though walking a pair, left unblemished. His walks though would begin the downfall that would lead to the overall collapse of the pen.
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Unfortunately, it was Matt Barnes that did the most damage as the three runs he allowed to cross the plate were the ones that swung the game for the Jays. The real shocker in the loss comes at the hand of Mike Shawaryn. He had been automatic since his promotion to the main club and today seemed like a serious reality check.
Shawaryn wh has yet to face any real adversity since joining the Red Sox got a big taste of it on Saturday. He would toss a fantastic 1-2-3 inning when he first entered the game but then a pair of homers would crush his efforts and allow Toronto to storm back into the game. Marcus Walden would also give up a run in the 7th to bring the score to 6-5.
When the bats were ice cold and the starters couldn’t go deep into games in the early going this season it was the bullpen that was the glue holding the team together. However, as the other facets of the game have turned around it’s the bullpen that has become the “blowpen.” They’ve frequently been giving up leads late in games to either hand the opposition a win or forcing the Red Sox to fight even harder.
Red Sox Nation has been clamoring for Dave Dombrowski to do something about the relief efforts of this team for the entirety of the season. Especially since he did nothing during the offseason to replace the losses of Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel. This was one of the deepest free agency markets for relievers/closers in a while and yet not a single deal was done.
What has me scratching my head is the way that this bullpen has been managed in 2019. Last season it felt like there were rhyme and reason for every move and when each pitcher would enter the game. There is absolutely none of that feeling in 2019. More often than not it seems like Cora is just spinning a wheel with his relievers’ names on it and seeing where it stops.
So not only is there seemingly a lack of structure with who will pitch in what inning/scenario, the pen has been getting worked more than they ever have. Barnes has appeared in 12 games this past month, Brandon Workman 11, Walden 10, and Brasier 8. That is just wild when you look at the calendar and realize that there have only been 21 games so far this month. It’s even more wild to see that both Cora and Dombrowski are calm and think everything is fine.
"“That’s something we’ve been going through the last 10, 12 or 15 days,” Cora said. “It’s part of it. You run into stretches like this. We’re playing a lot of close games, we have the lead late in games and we’ve got to go to those guys.”"
In my eyes, this is not a system that will lead to another championship run for the Red Sox. Not when they have to call upon the same handful of arms each night without giving them a chance to recharge the batteries. There are also games recently where the Red Sox are burning through 6-7 pitchers in relief and that won’t lead to much success either.
"“We’re in a position where we’ve got to go,” Barnes said. “We’re doing everything we can to be ready every single day to throw. That’s our job, to throw as often as possible.”"
The Red Sox have a serious chance to make a run at the division but they need to change some flaws in the gameplan. The relievers can’t be counted on to go every night, their bodies just won’t last, look at Heath Hembree and Hector Velazquez. The workload needs to be adjusted or Dombrowski needs to get on the phone and start working some deals.
The Yankees are at the top of the mountain and don’t look to slow down the train any time soon. If Boston wants to make any sort of run they’ll need to get the relief situation figured out and figured out fast. When your relievers are more of a “blowpen” than a bullpen, you have a problem. The trade deadline is just over a month away and if Boston doesn’t make something happen, I can’t see them going far into October.