The Boston Red Sox bullpen has gone completely haywire in recent weeks, but most notably in Tuesday’s inexcusable loss to the Cleveland Indians.
The team led the ballgame 3-0, and 5-2 in the final two innings, yet somehow managed to find a way to lose 7-5.
The two biggest culprits of this collapse came from two of Alex Cora’s most trusted relievers: Marcus Walden and Ryan Brasier. As a result, Red Sox twitter has yet again come out of every nook and cranny of the universe to start clamoring for Dave Dombrowski to sign free agent flamethrower Craig Kimbrel.
Kimbrel, whose 31st birthday was also on Tuesday, has remained unsigned due to his other-worldly asking price, as well as having shown signs of declining since the All-Star Break last season.
There’s also the lack of desire to lose a draft pick, which would no longer be a problem should a team pluck Kimbrel off the market in the first week of June.
However, with the Red Sox being Kimbrel’s team since 2016, it wouldn’t cost them a draft pick to sign the 31-year-old right-hander –– however, due to his asking price, picking him up would, in fact, put the Red Sox over the luxury tax threshold.
Which would consequently make it very difficult for Boston to ink Mookie Betts to a long-term extension.
So my message to Red Sox fans is pretty simple: Stop begging Dave Dombrowski to sign Kimbrel. It won’t happen. No matter how many times you ask, it’s not going to happen.
And it doesn’t have to happen either. The Red Sox have their closer on the roster already in the person of Matt Barnes. The issue with that is the fact Cora likes to use him as a hybrid reliever, and bring him in during the point of highest leverage.
It just hasn’t worked. Walden has blown a save and had an outing where he’s allowed two earned runs in 0.1 innings during his last four appearances. Brasier hasn’t looked like himself since April became May, posting an ERA of 8.00 with two home runs allowed through nine innings of work.
And as for Brandon Workman, he’s one of the most highly-used relievers in baseball –– already accumulating 27 appearances through the team’s first 55 games.
There are cheaper players to be had than Craig Kimbrel. Especially since the problem, outside of Tuesday’s loss, hasn’t been the ninth inning. It’s just been whatever inning Matt Barnes isn’t partaking in.
Help could be on the way soon as Nathan Eovaldi has continued throwing and appears to be getting stronger and stronger with each session. Remember, he signed a contract that was in the ballpark of the AAV that Craig Kimbrel was asking for ($17 million).
He was signed as a starter, but let’s not pretend that Eovaldi has a long track record of good health and success starting the game.
In his eight-year career, Eovaldi has only made 30 starts once, and only threatened the 200 innings mark once. He showed last season that he can be flexible with his role on the team. So, why not give him a shot in the bullpen? He was very effective out of the pen last October.
But stop lobbying for Craig Kimbrel. You have been ruthless ever since the final out of Game 5, and Dombrowski’s stance has remained the same that “we will not be making a large expenditure at the closer position.”
Give it a rest.
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