Red Sox vs. Yankees V and VI: Bullpen Blues

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Dave Dombrowski has worked in Major League Baseball for 40 years. He has yet to figure out how to put together a first-rate bullpen. This three-game series in the Bronx could be a microcosm for this Red Sox team’s season and potential postseason. The Red Sox are a very good team with good starting pitching and a deep lineup, but a team susceptible to late-inning bullpen meltdowns.

Game 1 of this series wasn’t a total disaster, but the bullpen took the loss nonetheless. In Games 2 and 3, the Red Sox lineup had its way against Yankees starters, but still had to sweat it out in the late innings. Game 2 was an unmitigated disaster with the Red Sox bullpen coughing up four runs in the eighth inning and Game 3 was headed down a similar path with the Red Sox bullpen coughing up four runs in the seventh inning. Thankfully JD Martinez was able to get the lead back for the Red Sox in the eighth inning of Game 3 and the Sox were able to hold on in Game 3 to salvage one game in this series.

In Game 2 Craig Kimbrel came into the game in the eighth inning and promptly allowed four runs to score on a triple and then a home run. In Game 3 he was brought into pitch a clean ninth inning and that’s exactly what he did, retiring the side in order on 13 pitches. It’s clear that the Red Sox need an eighth inning fireman so they can keep Kimbrel out of situations like the one he was brought into in Game 2.

Putting Kimbrel into the game in any situation other than a save situation to start the ninth inning is like getting a gremlin wet.

“This move baffles me every time we watch it. The instructions are very clear. Don’t put Kimbrel into the game before the ninth. How hard is that?”

I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but he clearly does not thrive in those situations. I’m not opposed to new-age baseball philosophy that says the save stat is overrated and overvalued, but don’t throw a guy into spots where he has demonstrated he is less likely to succeed! Do what works!

The Red Sox bullpen factored into all three decisions in this series, going 1-2. The bullpen recorded one save, blew two save opportunities, and allowed 9 runs in 8 2/3 innings. It’d be a shame to see this very good Red Sox team get taken down by bullpen issues. Pick up the phone, Dealer Dave, it’s time to make some moves!

The Red Sox and Yankees are now tied for first place in the AL East with the best record in the bigs, 26-11. They’re 3-3 against each other and don’t meet again until a three-game set in the Bronx at the end of June.

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