The Red Sox may have a weapon in Jake Diekman
What a weekend it was for the Red Sox in the Bronx. Some big homers, some big headaches, and at the end of the day the fellas escaped with at least one win. Things could’ve gone much better for Boston as they had more than ample opportunity to put the hurt on the Yankees but we also saw several times how this could’ve been a complete nightmare.
One big surprise that I don’t think any of us saw coming was the performances of Jake Diekman this weekend. His appearance on Opening Day wasn’t the greatest as he went just 1/3 of an inning, hit a guy, walked another, and gave up a run. But Sunday night was something completely different. Last night showed up the glimpses of why Chaim Bloom wanted him, and Matt Barnes should’ve felt a shiver down his spine.
In the ninth inning, with the game very much on the line, Diekman was called upon to dispose of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Joey Gallo. I, along with the majority of Red Sox Nation felt like moving away from a strong Hansel Robles to Diekman was a wild mistake from Alex Cora. Clearly, AC knew something that we didn’t. The southpaw attacked all three hitters and wound up striking out the side, giving Boston their first win of 2022.
So, why should Barnes be a little nervous? Well, Matty B went from being one of the best relievers in all of baseball through the first half of 2021 to not making the Postseason roster, to now being a ghost. He was nowhere near as sharp in spring training as he has been in years past and a tight back will likely spell an IL stint for the right-hander.
Not only was Barnes the unlikely closer as Boston doesn’t really have any other options, but now we saw a titanic effort from someone who has been a successful closer previously. If Matty Backpacks can’t figure his issues out and figure them out in a hurry, he may become just another guy in the bullpen, especially if Diekman can have more nights like last night.
The southpaw was asked if he wanted to be the closer going forward and he gave an incredibly blunt and honest answer about the matter.
"“I don’t really give two s**ts,” Diekman said when asked about the closer role."
He would go on to elaborate that it doesn’t matter when he gets into the game he just wants to pitch and help the team succeed. It’s a sentiment we’ve seen from other guys on the roster that they don’t care where and when they play, they just want their opportunity to help the club. As it stands right now, with such a small sample size, I think Diekman is at least the guy for the ninth right now.
That may be premature and I fully understand those in Red Sox Nation that may think I’m crazy, but there aren’t many other options. Garrett Whitlock was my choice to be the new closer after his monstrous rookie season but it appears that the Sox want to stretch him out and will seemingly pair him with Rich Hill in an effort to save the bullpen on those days. Looking over the rest of the bullpen, I don’t know if I trust anyone else.
"“I’ve kind of pitched everywhere,” Diekman said. “So if I can keep the score the same, either way we’re good. I feel like that’s the easiest thing to do as a reliever. Don’t worry about where you go. Just keep the score the same.”"
When Barnes is healthy and hopefully after finding his fastball again, I feel as if he’ll be Boston’s closer. He has earned the right to at least fight for the spot in the bullpen due to his resume and history with the club. The thing is, that’ll only get you so far, especially if you don’t have your stuff, and a few more shutdown innings from Diekman can really shuffle the deck for the Red Sox.
After some up and down years, a rough spring training, and a not so pretty 2022 debut I had no idea what to expect from Jake Diekman last night, I was so glad to be wrong. If he’s able to recapture some of the magic that made Chaim want to go after him in the first place, he’ll be a serious weapon for AC and the team going forward. I don’t want to get the cart too far ahead of the horse, but he definitely made a statement last night.