Each season brings on new challenges. The 2018 Red Sox are already having to deal with the natural regression that many World Series champions experience. This team has also had their fair share of nagging injuries that never seem to get better. Teams who win the World Series have a shorter off season and don’t return as hungry as they were the year before. With all of the injuries this season, especially to the pitching staff the Red Sox faithful have been introduced to three new pitchers. The organization hopes these pitchers can help Boston bridge the gap until the injured players make their return.
The pitchers are all journeymen and have been playing professional baseball for a number of years. Two of them enter their first full seasons in the Red Sox organization. Boston was introduced to one of these pitchers a season ago, and while brief he still was able to earn himself a World Series ring. Every one of these pitchers brings different styles of pitching to the table and each is effective in their own way.
The bullpen many would argue is a bigger piece to your team than the starting pitching. Marcus Walden has proved himself an admirable major league pitcher. When he made the team out of spring training a season ago the right hander learned that this game is a business and was sent down to the minors in a numbers crunch for a more veteran arm. This season he did not make the team out of spring training but remained ready and has appeared to turn himself into a key piece to the bullpen for the remainder of the year.
A season ago Walden, as a 30-year-old, made his first Major League appearance. The Red Sox are his fourth organization after the Blue Jays, Reds and Twins stints did not work out. The Fresno, California native will be the first to say that this experience has been surreal. Walden equates the success at the Major League level to one thing. A Slider. The Slider is a pitch that Walden did not add to his arsenal until a few years ago. That pitch along with a high velocity fastball with movement have created a devastating one two punch that leads to a lot of strikeouts and making experienced hitters look bad. As the season grows and summer comes Walden is going to find himself in many high leverage situations and the Red Sox organization have faith Walden will get them through those innings unscathed.
A couple of days ago the Red Sox placed David Price on the injured list with a balky left elbow. The injury does not seem serious. In the meantime, the Red Sox needed a player to replace Price and they chose right handed relief pitcher Ryan Weber. Weber is another journeyman who finds himself
Photo Credit: Barry Chin/The Boston Globe
currently in the Red Sox bullpen. The former Brave, Ray and Mariner comes to Boston on a minor league deal. The right hander is not going to overpower anyone. He is soft throwing pitcher who relies on location and a devastating sinker and changeup. In his first appearance, Weber kept the Red Sox within striking distance hurling 4 scoreless innings. He made an impression on the team. Unfortunately for Weber he may fall victim to a number crunch this year and be sent down as soon as guys get healthy.
Josh Smith introduced himself in the worst way to the Red Sox faithful. He started a game and gave up a grand slam to Jonathan Villar of the Orioles. That grand slam proved to be the difference in the game as the Orioles won the game by a score of 4-1. Smith much like his teammate Weber does not throw very hard but relies on deception and location. The right handed pitcher was originally drafted by the Reds and has also pitched for Oakland in addition to Boston. Many don’t expect much out of Smith, he does have experience and is a viable option to bridge the gap until some of the injured pitchers return.