Bridging the gap - how to get to the ninth

Eric D. Schabell
Contributing Writer

Close your eyes with me for a minute...

No really, close them for just a minute.

Good, now imagine a baseball field, sitting in the evening glow of the lights around the stadium.

The smell of beer and popcorn.

It might be Fenway, it might be elsewhere.

It is full of fans, fans in suspense as the game is hanging in the balance.

The Red Sox starter has just worked into the 6th or 7th inning, has gotten into a bit of a jam.

The manager has to come out of the dugout and has to make a tough decision. This is what he gets paid for as he knows he only needs to get to the 9th inning with a lead to slam the door with Koji Uehara.

His choice has been pretty big so far this season, but with varying results. A few injuries to the bullpen have forced him to call up some minor league help to get the Red Sox through the season so far.

An overview of what is available.

Red Sox Bullpen
  • Craig Breslow (LHP) - can bridge more than an inning to get you to the 9th, has been strong in relief this year with a 2.01 ERA over 55+ innings, and has 13 successful holds.
  • Junichi Tazawa (RHP) - rarely goes more than one inning, has had mixed results but sports a 2.84 ERA over 65 appearances, has 25 successful holds, but also has 8 blown saves, and has been the losing pitcher of record 3 times.
  • Drake Britton (LHP) - has 15 appearances since July with a 3.86 ERA. He has done mostly middle relief, picking up from the starter to bridge a few innings. He has been a left handed option but gives up contact with 19 hits over 76 batters.
  • Brandon Workman (RHP) - has been called up this year in July and a help both in the starting rotation as well as in a relief role. His 4.34 ERA over 37+ innings of work in 15 appearances, which includes 5 wins and 41 strikeouts against 158 batters faced. He is a valid option to bridge multiple innings where a RHP matches up to the situation.
  • Alex Wilson (RHP) - has not pitched in relief since July, has the ability to cover more than one inning, with a 4.88 ERA over 27 innings. He could be an option to fill in should the need arise. He has not been given too many chances to pitch in critical situations.
  • Rubby De La Rosa (LHP) - has only 9 innings of work so far, has not been trusted yet with any leads in a game so not much faith there beyond filling innings to provide rest. His 5.0 ERA does not say much but over 40 batters he only struck out 6 with one walk.
  • Franklin Morales (LHP) - with 13 appearances, a 5.30 ERA, just one loss with 2 holds, he is a valid option to bridge an inning down the road for the right situation.
  • Steven Wright (RHP) - our in house knuckleballer has not been used since August, has a 5.40 ERA, and would most likely only be called into action should injuries strike down the bullpen.
  • Pedro Beato (RHP) - has 10 appearances with a 3.60 ERA, has not pitched since early August, another possible emergency fill.
  • Jose De La Torre (RHP) - only has 7 relief appearances this year, with a 6.35 ERA he would be an emergency filler should injuries play a roll down the stretch.
There is a pretty nice selection for the manager to work with in the bullpen right now, with help in the wings should the postseason get a little rough.

After the manager calls in the help he needs from the bullpen, wanders back to the dugout, he gets to watch the game bridged across that gap between his starting pitcher and his closer.

After the dust settles, the game reaches the 9th inning with the lead still intact and out of the pen in the 9th comes Koji "high-five" Uehara.

Game over, save notched, put it in the win column.

Post a comment or via twitter @ericschabell with your thoughts.

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