Sox Grades Part 9: Bullpen

Sox Grades Part 9: Bullpen

by February 12, 2019 0 comments

Joe Kelly- 2018 stat line: 65.2 IP, W-L 4-2, K/BB 68/32, 4.39 ERA, 0.5 WAR, 2 SV

Jeremy: As much as I was down on Matt Barnes, I was that high on Joe Kelly. I lobbied hard to get him on the postseason roster, believing that triple digits on the radar gun still would shine through in the postseason. I was handsomely rewarded with a dominating postseason by the flamethrower. The California native mowed down opposing hitters, looking every inch the setup man that dominated throughout the early months. The middle stretch can’t be ignored; there’s a reason his ERA is 4.39. But his postseason heroics were great, I have to elevate his grade solely on that alone. Joe, you will be missed.

Grade: B+

Jordan: Joe Kelly is a weird person to grade. I remember talking about his case as an All-Star candidate back in May. Boy, were we wrong on that. He followed up his 0.63 ERA in May with back-to-back months with an ERA over eight, and three such months over the final four in 2018. I’ll even admit I was hesitant to get behind him being on the postseason roster. Did he make me eat my words or what? Talk about lights out. Even if the bullpen doesn’t get “worse” in the regular season without him, it definitely takes a hit in October should they get there.

Grade: B

Tyler Thornburg- 2018 stat line: 24 IP, W-L 2-0, K/BB 90/25, 5.63 ERA, 0 WAR

Jeremy: Thornburg sat out all of 2017, rehabbing from thoracic outlet syndrome in his right shoulder. Once he got on the field, it was his dominant July that almost indirectly doomed the Sox. He was unhittable throughout the final week of July, so much so that Dave Dombrowski didn’t believe he needed to make the move for another bullpen arm. Then Thornburg started to struggle, and was eventually shut down for the year. All in all, a relatively uninspiring season for the reliever that was traded in exchange for Travis Shaw.

Grade: D

Jordan: I don’t even know how to grade Thornburg, to be honest. Seventeen of his 25 outings were scoreless, and he had two stretches of at least five consecutive scoreless appearances in a row. When he was on, he looked pretty sharp. However, when off, the dude was awful. He had three outings where he allowed two or more earned runs, including two where he gave up three. Whenever he was in a position to get his down below four, he had one of those poor outings. He was then shut down in order to give him his first normal offseason since being acquired. I need to see more of Thornburg to grade him fairly.

Grade: N/A

Craig Kimbrel- 2018 stat line: 62.1 IP, W-L 5-1, K/BB 96/31, 2.74 ERA, 2.3 WAR, 42 SV

Jeremy: Full disclosure, I am the by far the biggest Craig Kimbrel fan on this panel. Did he have the greatest season? No. but did he have a great season compared to the other top closers? Yes. Did he complete a six-out save in a pressure situation? Yes. He didn’t blow a save in the playoffs. He was the rock of the bullpen for much of the year, then the bullpen picked him up in the postseason. The contract he wants is ridiculous, but I fully want him back on the Sox, albeit on a lesser term. Yes it wasn’t the season everyone thought Kimbrel would have, but at the end of the day he got the job done.

Grade: B+

Jordan: I think my criticism on Craig Kimbrel is a bit misconstrued. Was I frustrated with him a lot during the second half and postseason? Of course, and why wouldn’t I be? We’ve seen how dominant this guy can be, even during his Red Sox career. His 1.43 ERA in 2017 was the best of his career since 2013 –– then he followed that up with the second-worst ERA of his career of 2.74. That being said, him being out there and presumably healthy is a lot better than most relievers in this game’s history. I’d love to have him back, and I’m with Jeremy on the terms of the deal. Even for one year, I wouldn’t load his salary –– unless incentivized.

Grade: B

Drew Pomeranz- 2018 stat line: 74 IP, W-L 2-6, K/BB 66/44, 6.08 ERA, -0.5 WAR

Jeremy: Drew Pomeranz’s Twitter account did more work than this stiff did throughout the year. You are confirmed to be the worst pitcher on the roster if you can’t even get into an 18 inning game where the guy who’s out there is working on his seventh inning of relief. Pomeranz should find himself a couch to snooze on for the next 12 months, because he doesn’t deserve to be a part of a major league roster.

Grade: F-

Jordan: Aside from the day Pablo Sandoval got DFA’d in 2017, I can’t recall the last time I was genuinely this happy a Red Sox player left the team for somebody else. Even in 2012, at the time I liked Adrian Gonzalez and was holding out hope on Carl Crawford. This dude was a bonafide scrub. He has bad mechanics, he can’t throw strikes. When he did, the count was likely 3-1 and the ball was drilled off the wall. I’m glad he’s gone, especially to the Giants.

Grade: F

Carson Smith- 2018 stat line: 14.1 IP, W-L 1-1, K/BB 18/6, 3.77 ERA, 0.3 WAR

Jeremy: I was trying to find a grade to give Carson Smith, but I had trouble finding it and decided to whip my laptop at the wall. My contempt for Carson Smith is higher than even my hate for LeBron, which is saying something. The fact that this bum got an invite to Spring Training is disgusting. What a terrible return for even a guy like Wade Miley. He doesn’t deserve to garner a low-level prospect.

Grade: I don’t even care, this guy is a bum

Jordan: Jeremy’s assessment is a little extreme, in my opinion. I’m not condoning what Carson Smith did, or has done in his Red Sox career thus far. What took place in 2018 was utterly selfish. But I love the idea of him coming back for Spring Training. No matter how funny the terms are. The guy rejected his minor league assignment at the end of the year, thus becoming a free agent –– only to re-sign with Boston on a minor league deal (insert laughing emojis). On a team with minimal closing experience throughout, it’s nice to have someone who potentially can close.

Grade: D

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