Don’t expect a big splash for Red Sox bullpen additions
The Boston Red Sox lower half of the bullpen is like looking for a late-night snack and finding nothing. Once manager Alex Cora works through the usual reliables you are faced with good luck and I hope the bats get hot. You see this when called to duty has Matt Barnes, Josh Taylor, and Adam Ottavino having a day off.
In a loss to the A’s on Saturday night, the Red Sox avoided dodging the bullet until Matt Andriese was finally called upon. Boom! Andriese is or was an established veteran who is now in the unreliable category. Yacksel Rios will not be the solution. Rios is just representative of hoping somehow you get lucky for a month or two. So far with Rios, the luck is the same I have with scratch tickets.
This is not just a Red Sox problem but it runs through all of baseball. Depth. Especially pitching depth. Pitch counts and days of rest become the drivers. A few bad outings by the rotation and the bullpen gets hammered – once you get into Andriese and Rios territory it’s like riding your motorcycle in the rain.
Naturally, the social media executioners have banged the drum for Andriese to be sent somewhere, anywhere, but to the beleaguered ‘pen. Andriese is just symbolic for the rest of the ‘pen crew that is called upon once the support line has been thinned via usage schedule. Cora has been doing an excellent job managing his pitching resources, but eventually, circumstances place pitchers in high leverage situations where they simply do not belong.
At this point, I would expect the shuttle service between Worcester and Boston to gain some traction. That shuttle could just remain empty since the options are rather bleak for reserves to fortify the bullpen. Righty Phillips Valdez could return. Valdez was a surprise in 2020 and a solid “meh” in 2021. But he’s still on the 40-Man.
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Eduard Bazardo did some service time in Boston this season, but the righty is now on the IL. Tanner Houck is working his way back from a tender elbow and could offer up some degree of stabilization in the bullpen basement. Ryan Brasier seems to be in IL flux at this point. That’s about it. The cupboard is as bare as Vin Diesel’s head is on hair.
Chaim Bloom has work to do and it is all depth work for the bullpen. The problem is the big splash and based on the luxury tax situation that is highly unlikely. Management is obviously content with skating close to the threshold. Getting a more noted bullpen spear-carrier could weigh on that. Then comes the price which is usually translated to prospects.
Bloom has been exceedingly industrious regarding prospect strength. I doubt that he will suddenly veer off course and start tossing top ten prospects to the trade winds. Bloom’s method which we saw in 2020 is to scope out the flotsam and jetsom of other teams.
That will be Bloom’s course of action. Unless management changes directions it will just stay the course. The sideward moves. The roster picking. The sweep of the dumping ground – players jettisoned from their roster. At times it will be painful as it was watching the A’s collect a win. When you are leading the pack then you can afford to hold.