Red Sox Report: Bullpen A Huge Question Mark Down The Stretch
Last night we saw Ryan Dempster only last 5 1/3 innings. That wasn’t the biggest story after him plunking Alex Rodriguez in the second inning but still it should be a story. The Red Sox bullpen is missing three arms they thought would be of great help this season with Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey, and Andrew Miller out for the rest of the season. With Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa stepping up to key roles Bailey and Hanrahan have been forgotten but let us not forget about Andrew Miller. Miller, a lefty was coming into his own this season and was a force getting not only lefties out but righties as well. Now the Red Sox are forced to used Drake Britton and Franklin Morales in tight situations early in the game when starters fail, because Craig Breslow is more of a late inning reliever. Fellow lefty Matt Thornton is on the disabled list as well with a leg injury and it is unsure when he will begin rehab.
The trade deadline passed with the Red Sox not adding a bullpen arm, which I feel they will regret. Sure they got two weeks to add an arm but the player must pass through waivers, so how good of an arm could they get? Franklin Morales has not been what I expected of him this year as a long man to provide some key innings. Last night he did not look good against the Yankees. Drake Britton gave up the three run triple to Brett Gardner after Dempster walked the nine hitter Chris Stewart on four pitches. Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa appeared in last night’s game as well each giving up runs and could not stop the bleeding. Britton, Workman, and De La Rosa will be forced into roles down the stretch that they have never experienced and I am not sure they can handle it. Sure manager John Farrell needs to show trust in them cause he can’t pitch Uehara and Tazawa everyday but, at the same time they need to be able to pitch effectively to keep getting spots in which to pitch.
It is apparent that Farrell places great trust in Uehara, Tazawa, and Breslow who all three have been great this season but after those three it really is something to worry about when a reliever comes to the mound. If a starter does not go six or seven innings it will get interesting to see how John Farrell handles the bullpen. Uehara’s workload this season has been more than expected I feel but now he is the closer and they need him to pitch as often as he does. It is also unknown when Alex Wilson will come back as he was on rehab with Triple A Pawtucket but, has not pitched since August 5th. Brayan Villarreal acquired from Detroit in the Jake Peavy trade may also get a look down the stretch as he helped Detroit down the stretch last year although he had a poor start to this season.
Bullpen struggles had to be expected as you can only can get by so far with Pedro Beato and Jose De La Torre pitching in key spots for your team. Sure the Red Sox got a starter in Peavy at the deadline to provide insurance as Clay Buchholz is still out. They need another arm in that bullpen that John Farrell trusts and right now I feel like they do not have it. It’ll be interesting to see in September when the rosters expand to 40 who will be added as the Red Sox have veterans in Pawtucket in Jose Contreras and Ryan Rowland-Smith as well as former Indians lefty Rafael Perez in Portland.
This week playing in the National League parks maybe the Sox starters can go deeper in games with less potent offenses. The Giants, World Series Champions last year, have struggled all year and are not the offense they were last year. Running into the Dodgers this weekend though better bring out the best in the Red Sox. Former Sox Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez will play against the Red Sox for the first time since the big trade last August. The Dodgers also are having one of the best runs in baseball winners of 42 of their last 51 and have jumped out to a lead in the National Leagues West.
With the Red Sox losing seven of ten and still having a one game lead in the division they should consider themselves lucky, but now it is time to reverse the course and win seven of ten before people start to talk of a collapse.