Bad Bullpen Could Kill Hopes of a World Series
|(Aug. 30, 2016 - Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)|
It's no secret that the Red Sox's bullpen has been atrocious this year. They seem as if they are constantly blowing leads and the trust that John Farrell has in them seems to dwindle by the day.
The bullpen's combined-ERA is 3.94 and currently ranks 10th in the American League. Junichi Tazawa's ERA is 4.63. Koji Uehara's is 4.50. Fernando Abad's is 6.30. Matt Barnes' is 4.37. These guys were supposed to be vital parts of the bullpen.
On paper, without looking at ERAs, this bullpen would seem incredible. The problem lies in the uncertainty Farrell has toward the bullpen, as well as the inconsistent ways they've shown all year.
Come the postseason, every team is good; the x-factor to success always lies in the bullpen. The Kansas City Royals had that x-factor last year and the year before. The San Francisco Giants have had it every time they've won the World Series since 2010. Even in the 2013 regular season, the Red Sox's bullpen had an ERA of 3.70. In 2016, that bullpen would have been ranked among the top-5 in the AL.
In '13, when the Sox got to the postseason, the pen tightened up with an ERA of 1.28. For this year's squad, the question won't be whether or not this bullpen will get them to the postseason, but will this bullpen be able to hold leads.
Lately and since the start of the season, it feels as if this bullpen blows more leads than any other team. When it comes time for the postseason, correctly using the bullpen becomes a complicated game of chess. The strategy that will go into matchups and usage will be immense and for the last month of the season, the pen needs to display to Farrell why he should be confident in them. This team has no seventh or eighth inning guy. No one seems as if they can be relied upon -- even Craig Kimbrel's been unreliable at times.
Will Farrell be able to play that game of chess come the postseason? Will he even have the correct pieces to move?
Just off of the eye-test, it looks as if the answer to both questions is a firm no.
Follow Evan Marinofsky (@emarinofsky) for all of his Red Sox thoughts and opinions.