Red Sox couldn’t have been saved by trade deadline moves
By Sean Penney
The Boston Red Sox failed to address their bullpen issues at the trade deadline but nothing they could have done would have prevented this losing streak.
A week ago, the Boston Red Sox were heading into a Sunday night game against the New York Yankees aiming for a sweep that was supposed to ignite their second-half comeback. Now they are trying to avoid a sweep in the Bronx that could do irreparable harm to their postseason chances. Between these two series was the MLB trade deadline where the Red Sox sat idle instead of addressing their glaring bullpen needs.
Boston is riding a seven-game losing streak, their longest since 2015. This pitiful stretch has knocked them 13.5 games behind the Yankees in the AL East and 5.5 out of a playoff spot. It’s almost fitting that this team would come out so lifeless from a trade deadline that saw no activity from the roster’s architects. The front office didn’t consider this year’s club worth investing more resources into and the players have spent every day since proving them right.
There was plenty of activity on deadline day but not much in terms of the difference-makers the Red Sox needed. Most of the proven closer options they targeted didn’t end up moving. Despite several elite options floating around the rumor mill last month, the teams expected to sell either had no interest in dealing their top-tier relievers or weren’t realistic about the asking price.
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Even if the Red Sox had made a bold move to upgrade their bullpen, it wouldn’t have been enough. During this seven-game losing streak, the starting pitcher has been tagged with the loss five times. In the other two games, the starter failed to make it through five innings.
That’s not to say the bullpen has been flawless by any means but we can’t blame their meltdowns on this stretch of futility. The rotation hasn’t performed up to par all season and they’ve been particularly dreadful of late with a collective 9.70 ERA over the last seven games. Red Sox starters has given up 6+ runs in four of those games and lasted into the seventh inning only once.
How was upgrading the bullpen at the deadline going to prevent that? They barely looked at rotation options after adding Andrew Cashner earlier in the month and didn’t have the resources to get a significant upgrade. It’s safe to say they were never in the market for Zack Greinke.
Adding a reliever or two at the deadline would have made this roster look better on paper but wouldn’t have changed their current spot in the standings. Instead of bemoaning the front office for being inactive on the trade market, we’d be second-guessing their decision to surrender valuable long-term assets to supply a quick-fix for a team that may miss the postseason anyway. That’s the worst-case scenario we’d be starring at if the Red Sox had gone all-in at the deadline.