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(March 14, 2016 - Source: Leon Halip/Getty Images North America)
Evan Marinofsky
Contributing Writer

I know, I know: it's Spring Training. Numbers should be ignored whether they're good or bad.

But Craig Kimbrel's numbers are just too good to sneeze at.

In five innings of work this spring, he has nine strikeouts and no walks. He's also only given up one hit and that was in his first inning of the spring. And just by using some logic here, that means he's thrown four hitless innings since.

Even though this is just Spring Training, I can't help but get a little bit excited from these numbers.

One of the hardest things to do in baseball is trade and acquire bullpen strength. It's really all about luck.

Look at the Kansas City Royals of last year: their bullpen wasn't stacked with notable names, yet they were lights out in the postseason and won a World Series because of it. So even though the Sox acquired arguably the best closer in the game, that doesn't mean it translates to success.

I don't mean to bring up touchy subjects, but think of when the Sox got Joel Hanrahan and thought he was the closer of the future. Or when they got Andrew Bailey in 2012 to be the heir to longtime successful closer Jonathan Papelbon (who was homegrown by the way). Or when they brought in Eric Gagne mid-2007 to help out the back end of the bullpen.

You know what all three of those guys had in common? They all were great closers with lots of potential before coming here, but once in Boston, they were terrible.

Gagne had a 6.75 ERA once he got here.

Bailey had a 7.04 ERA in 2012.

Hanrahan had a 9.82 ERA with the Sox.

Those numbers are downright sad and for Gagne and Hanrahan, that was the beginning of the end for their careers.

For the Red Sox to be successful this year, they will need Kimbrel to be lights out on the back end especially with Carson Smith out for who knows how long. They also still have Koji Uehara, but he's 40 years old and is currently dealing with injuries.

We know that Kimbrel is a superstar who can strike people out effortlessly and close games with ease, but with the track record of failed closers just here in Boston, it makes you hesitate just a bit when thinking about how he'll fare here with the Red Sox.

But those Spring Training numbers definitely help his case.


Evan Marinofsky 3/25/2016 02:02:00 PM Edit
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