Breaking Down the Red Sox Bullpen

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We’re mere days from the Major League Baseball season finally getting underway.  Last week, Evan Bolliger of BSS broke down the Red Sox starting rotation.  We now know that Nathan Eovaldi will be the Opening Day starter for the Red Sox and Eduardo Rodriguez is working his way back from a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.  What we can almost say for certain is besides Eovaldi and Rodriguez, the rest of the Red Sox rotation is up in the air. 


Photo courtesy of cbsboston.com

Once Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke makes that call to the bullpen, what exactly will his bullpen even look like?  While many Red Sox fans have been very critical of the roster construction by Chaim Bloom, the club has many options to use this season.  So what exactly will the bullpen look like?  Here are some of the options for Roenicke and pitching coach David Bush:

Brandon Workman: Last season, Workman had his best statistical season of his career.  He went 10-1 with a 1.88 ERA, 16 saves in 73 games for the Red Sox in 2019.  Now he is the appointed closer of the Red Sox for 2020 and he has not looked good at summer camp.  Is there concern to worry about the ninth inning man?  Well, Red Sox fans will always find something to worry about, it's just in our DNA, it's how we are built mentally.  The Red Sox say his stuff is fine, but the video will show you his stuff is all over the place.  One thing is for certain, if he struggles, they have options to replace him.  Matthew Barnes could be a ninth inning option for Roenicke.  He will be a free agent at the end of the season, so there is incentive for Workman to have a stellar season. 

Matthew Barnes: For starters, he now goes by Matthew Barnes.  My first thought was that finally when I would google Matthew Barnes, the basketball player would stop showing up.  I was wrong.  What I am not wrong about is how important he will be to the Red Sox bullpen this season.  Barnes will be the setup man for Workman and honestly, he is a great eighth inning option for this team.  Expect to see Barnes in many high leverage situations this season.  Barnes has at least 20 holds in the bullpen in the last three seasons.  Barnes will need to focus on his control, but as the number two man in the Red Sox bullpen I have some optimism for the back end of the 'pen for the first time in a while. 

Ryan Brasier: Brasier was nasty during the 2018 season.  Then the calendar jumped one year and he came back down to earth.  While 2019 was not the greatest season for the righty, this season is important for him.  Like many players in their early to mid-thirties this 60-game season is important on whether or not they could see decent free agent dollars in the future.  Brasier is arb-eligible this offseason for the first time in his career.  Brasier has said he is healthy and his arm feels good coming into this season.  The Red Sox need to see results from Brasier and he needs to capitalize on every opportunity this season in the Red Sox bullpen. 

Austin Brice: After coming over in a trade with the Marlins this offseason, the right hander is vying for a spot in the bullpen for the Red Sox this season.  Last season, Brice produced a quality year for the Miami Marlins, with a solid 3.43 ERA and an above average WHIP that was 1.231.  If he makes the club, I would expect him to be middle innings reliever for the club.  However don't be surprised if the Red Sox use Brice as an opener this season either.  There are a lot of options for Roenicke to use this season. 

Matt Hall: Hall is making the case to earn a spot in the Red Sox rotation.  The thought of that might make Red Sox fans uneasy because they'll quickly look at his stats from last season.  This past Saturday, Hall was lights out on the bump in the Red Sox intrasquad game from Fenway Park.  In fact, he only allowed two hits and one walk in four scoreless innings.  During that stretch he shut down J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and Andrew Benintendi.  Once again, I understand it is a short sample size, but all teams are dealing with this shortened window.  The plus is Hall looks good and is expected to earn a role on the Red Sox Opening Day roster. 

Jeffrey Springs: Another waiver wire pick up for Bloom, Springs is a lefty who should end up in the bullpen but is very much in the mix to win a spot in the rotation or even be an opener this season.  During Summer Camp at Fenway park, Springs has been dominate against Red Sox hitters.  I understand that until he sees actual in-game competition it'll be hard to predict what any of these guys will do this season.  With McHugh opting out of the season, this opens the door for Springs who can be a multi-inning option for Roenicke and pitching coach Dave Bush.  Springs could serve as an opener for the Red Sox or even be the pitcher who's called upon once the opener goes two innings or so this season.  The left hander throws hard and is one of the many arms Bloom scooped up this offseason.  This kid has an actual shot at cracking the Opening Day roster, but where he slots, that remains to be determined. 

Marcus Walden: Walden had a great year last year for the Red Sox going 9-2 with a 3.81 ERA and two saves.  He will be back this season as a swingman option for Roenicke if he needs an opener or a bulk inning reliever this season.  Walden provides great depth and insurance for a team with a lot of depth but not a lot of experience. 

Colten Brewer: This dude is a sleeper in the Red Sox bullpen this season and you can take that to the bank.  The reports coming out of the Sox camp is Brewer is looking more confident and aggressive.  I fully expect him to make a huge leap for the Red Sox and be more of a swingman between the opener role and the middle innings for the club.  While down in Fort Myers, he posted a 2.16 ERA and struck out nine batters in 8 ⅓ Grapefruit League innings.  Brewer has been perfect against his teammates tossing three scoreless innings for the Sox.  Brewer looks good, I might even say... scary good.  He is my sleeper in the Red Sox bullpen.  Brewer, don't make me wear that take. 
Josh Osich: Osich could be an under the radar gem for Chaim Bloom this season.  Osich, who was claimed off waivers from the White Sox, has pitched very well at Red Sox Summer Camp.  The left hander has looked relatively un-hittable in camp and could provide the team an option in the mid innings or even as an opener if needed as this unorthodox season is in full swing.  Last season Osich, struck out 61 batters and logged 67 ⅔ innings over 57 relief outings.

Heath Hembree: Last season in 45 games, Hembree went 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA notching two saves.  He is expected to be a part of the Red Sox bullpen again this season, but the team will look for regular consistency from the right hander.  Hembree's fastball was tattooed by hitters last season while his curveball and slider were his swing and miss pitches.  In a shortened season, Hembree could provide depth for the team in the games they use an opener, or he could be useful in the mid innings, because it'll be almost a given most starters will need some time to go deep into games. 

Collin McHugh: There was some optimism surrounding McHugh after the Red Sox signed him right before the start of Spring Training.  But, the right hander, who is coming off elbow surgery, has decided to opt-out for the 2020 season.  McHugh felt that his arm wasn't responding well during rehab and with a potential lengthy IL stint, led to his decision.  With sitting out for the 2020 season, he will be paid his $650k pro-rated salary and will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

We will get to see this squad in action next week when the Red Sox play exhibition games against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.  Bloom is still looking to upgrade his pitching staff while being mindful of the coronavirus pandemic when potentially acquiring some new arms for his roster.  There could be a few additions and subtractions for the club, but with the 60-man player pool, the Red Sox have plenty of options to choose from.  





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Boston Sports Syndicate: Breaking Down the Red Sox Bullpen
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