Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s bullpen alignment now seems set
Has manager Alex Cora finally settled on the Red Sox bullpen rotation?
As the ninth inning started at the Tropicana field, two items were noteworthy for the Red Sox. The first and certainly the most important was an 11-6 lead against the Rays. The second was the bullpen, and warming up was Garrett Whitlock.
Whitlock soon sat down as the Red Sox piled on three more runs to take a 14-6 lead. With the Boston bullpen, no lead for the opposition is insurmountable as the more snarky residents of Red Sox Nation would Tweet or flood other social media sites with attendant negativity.
The Red Sox made a switch to Matt Barnes, and Whitlock sat. As well noted, Barnes was the Red Sox closer until a post-All-Star funk saw that job description go elsewhere. Barnes had won the job, and Barnes had lost the job. The condolences were a two-year contract extension for $18.7 million. Great for Barnes and dreadful for the bottom line.
Manager Alex Cora has been wandering the bullpen landscape searching for a savior. Hansel Robles and Ryan Brasier have had their moments. Both have performed admirably in a set-up role. In the blowout 14-6 win, both performed remarkably well.
Adam Ottavino also saw closer duty, but a retched September/October saw him becoming a less favorable option. The Red Sox also had two lefties – Austin Davis and Josh Taylor – getting high leverage opportunities. That is all for naught. With Whitlock warming up the other evening, the choice is clear.
Whitlock has one postseason appearance, and that was the Wild Card game against the Yankees. He allowed a run in the ninth and nothing else. During the season, Whitlock managed a pair of saves and 17 holds. A great fastball and a deadly slider, and exquisite control. Whitlock walks few – a 5.7 BB% and can get the needed whiff – 27.2 K%.
The Rays during 2021 were not kind to Whitlock, who went 1-1 and a 5.14 ERA against the 100 win Rays. But with the changing dynamic of the bullpen, it is now becoming apparent that Ottavio and Barnes have lost favor with Cora. Good. Much of RSN heartedly concur.
Just what will Cora do with the rest of the staff? Nick Pivetta and Tanner Houck have been invaluable the first two games. As the series moves forward, will one get a start? Will both take on a more important role if the Red Sox are fortunate enough to advance?
That said, it is now becoming clear that Whitlock will assume the closer role. Brasier and Robles have earned Cora’s trust, and that will be rewarded. However, with Cora, you never know? As the title stated, is the alignment set? Game three will give a greater indication, and you may even see Chris Sale handling bullpen duties.