Boston Red Sox: Grading the team after their fast 2021 start

BOSTON, MA - MAY 12: A general view of the stadium facade during a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Oakland Athletics on May 12, 2021 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 12: A general view of the stadium facade during a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Oakland Athletics on May 12, 2021 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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Red Sox reliever Garrett Whitlock
Apr 23, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Garrett Whitlock (72) pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the sixth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /

Red Sox have two standouts leading the ‘pen

The Boston bullpen is ranked behind the Yankees with a 1.7 fWAR that is certainly skewered by Matt Barnes. Barnes is perfect in saves and will give you high heat or a knee-buckling “Uncle Charlie” curveball. The free agent to be will get a pile of money.

Josh Taylor (11.3%), Darwinzon Hernandez (18.6%), Adam Ottavino (16.2%), and Austin Brice (11.1%). That is all BB%! Walks just kill, especially leadoff walks which is now the specialty of each. Best on the relief corps?  Garrett Whitlock at 3%.

Whitlock has been the surprise so far on the staff. A steal from the Yankees via Rule 5 makes it even more delicious. A bullpen second best 90.9 LOB%. Whitlock does it with a fastball and killer change that have a 13 MPH difference.

Next to Barnes, the top heater belongs to Hirokazu Sawamura. Sawamura has a 97.2 LOB% and that stat is generally muted by just what the conditions are when you come into the game. A 42.5 Hard Hit% is not enticing for anyone unless they are a hitter.

Itinerant righty Phillips Valdez is proving 2020 was no fluke. Since I am in a loop on hard-hit percent Valdez has a team-low 17.1%. I am more comfortable seeing Valdez enter a game than Ottavino.

Matt Andriese is as advertised A bullpen version of Pivetta. A solid veteran who can dice out multiple innings or even get a start. After Barnes and Whitlock this crew slides down appreciably.

GRADE B-

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