Building a Bullpen, 2019 edition

AB in DC

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Just curious if you recall your feelings about Joe Kelly as of end of regular season last year. In case you don't recall, his ERA from June 1 to September 30 was over 6.00
Joe Kelly had four years of being a decent-to-good major league pitcher.

Ryan Brasier has had four months. After bouncing around the minor leagues (including Japan) for more than a decade.

The situations are not remotely comparable.
 

joe dokes

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Then who exactly is going to be in the playoff bullpen besides Barnes/Workman/Walden/Hembree? Brian Johnson? Maybe if 2018 Brasier shows up, sure, but 2019 Brasier is sub-replacement level.
The answer is Whothefuckknows. Remember him? He's the same guy that was "going to be in the playoff bullpen with Kimbrel, Barnes and Kelly" as of last May 30.
 

chrisfont9

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Since his name was mentioned, albeit not in this context, I'll just mention that Kelly has an ERA north of 8 in what has been an unmitigated disaster of a season in LA. The 2018 bullpen will go down next to the 2013 rotation in the "you won with who?!?" discussion. At least the Sox had the sense to move off a couple of those guys, but the urgency to find the next one or two is clearly there.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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Joe Kelly had four years of being a decent-to-good major league pitcher.

Ryan Brasier has had four months. After bouncing around the minor leagues (including Japan) for more than a decade.

The situations are not remotely comparable.
Agreed. And as mentioned below, this proven horse has an ERA over 8.

Just shows that no one knows nothing about relievers. None of us wanted Major League Saves Leader Craig Kimbrell in there when it counted last year.
 

shaggydog2000

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Joe Kelly had four years of being a decent-to-good major league pitcher.

Ryan Brasier has had four months. After bouncing around the minor leagues (including Japan) for more than a decade.

The situations are not remotely comparable.
Joe Kelly had 4 years of failing as a starter and having long stretches of ineffectiveness as a reliever. Let's not rewrite his history now that you want to trash somebody else. He was the dude everyone complained about being not enough when he was in the bullpen.
 

chrisfont9

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If the Nats decide to trade him, probably. Considering he has an extremely reasonable team option for 2020, I imagine the Nats will be asking a lot.
How about Will Smith on the Giants? FA after this year. Solid closer on a horrible team. Sergio Romo, now of Miami? Not actually good but available cheap. Raisel Iglesias? Has a year left after this so the cost won't be cheap.
 

Al Zarilla

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How about Will Smith on the Giants? FA after this year. Solid closer on a horrible team. Sergio Romo, now of Miami? Not actually good but available cheap. Raisel Iglesias? Has a year left after this so the cost won't be cheap.
No Romo please. He's probably washed up at 36 and his nothing but a frisbee slider act in Fenway would be frightening.
 

Dewey'sCannon

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Yeah I tossed that name in there with some hesitation. He's available for probably peanuts, but even then maybe not.
That would be a waste of good peanuts.

But I did listen to an Over the Monster podcast the other day where they said that they would deal Dalbec for Doolittle in a heartbeat, should the latter become available. I think I would too, especially with Chavis ahead of him and Casas behind him.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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That would be a waste of good peanuts.

But I did listen to an Over the Monster podcast the other day where they said that they would deal Dalbec for Doolittle in a heartbeat, should the latter become available. I think I would too, especially with Chavis ahead of him and Casas behind him.
I would do this only if we could unload Nuñez in that.
 

chawson

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How about Will Smith on the Giants? FA after this year. Solid closer on a horrible team. Sergio Romo, now of Miami? Not actually good but available cheap. Raisel Iglesias? Has a year left after this so the cost won't be cheap.
The Reds extended Iglesias through 2021, so he’s probably too expensive. I think Will Smith will have a lot of suitors, but Jake Diekman’s having nearly as good year if we need a lefty. Non-closers like Stammen, Hendriks, David Hernandez, or Sam Dyson are having good years and could work too. Kirby Yates is the prize.
 

Manramsclan

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At this point, I think they need to do something. Although I thought Josh Taylor actually looked pretty good tonight
 

Sprowl

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At this point, I think they need to do something. Although I thought Josh Taylor actually looked pretty good tonight
I'm impressed by his stuff: a 96 mph four-seam fastball is fast enough to get away with a few location errors. His secondary pitches (mostly sliders, but also a curve and a sinker in his appearance against Toronto) look to be good enough.

Also, the Red Sox could use a left-handed reliever, even if his stuff is not exactly LOOGY-worthy. Dombrowski's idea of a good reliever is a RHP who throws 94+, so some variety can only help.
 

Manramsclan

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I'm impressed by his stuff: a 96 mph four-seam fastball is fast enough to get away with a few location errors. His secondary pitches (mostly sliders, but also a curve and a sinker in his appearance against Toronto) look to be good enough.

Also, the Red Sox could use a left-handed reliever, even if his stuff is not exactly LOOGY-worthy. Dombrowski's idea of a good reliever is a RHP who throws 94+, so some variety can only help.

I agree. I think this isn't brought up enough. Almost all Sox relievers throw a 94+ fastball with a curve from the right side. If you are an opposing hitter, it's just a different guy, not different stuff. (Workman's amazing curve aside)
 

simplicio

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He gets 3/45 with the Cubs. I am absolutely fine with Boston not paying him that.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Hoping that Johnson can suddenly take a big step forward and turn into a 2 inning bullpen ace.... also Wright’s expected arrival will help.
Who will be sent back down when they show up? I think Shawaryn has some very good potential
 

mfried

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Hoping that Johnson can suddenly take a big step forward and turn into a 2 inning bullpen ace.... also Wright’s expected arrival will help.
Who will be sent back down when they show up? I think Shawaryn has some very good potential
I’m very skeptical about Johnson as bullpen ace. More like a spot starter and loogy. The guy has a decent curve ball but shouldn’t be over-rated. Wright is an excellent backup starter and could be useful in a none-on relief role. Shawaryn looks really promising.
 

joe dokes

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I, too, am curious whether Shawaryn will continue to succeed. He's been a consistently not-terrible starter over 3 pro seasons at multiple levels. Maybe not-terrible is his ceiling as a starter, and there's more there as a reliever. Wouldn't be the first.
I think Cora will give him some Walden-ish leverage soon to see if its real.
 

nvalvo

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I, too, am curious whether Shawaryn will continue to succeed. He's been a consistently not-terrible starter over 3 pro seasons at multiple levels. Maybe not-terrible is his ceiling as a starter, and there's more there as a reliever. Wouldn't be the first.
I think Cora will give him some Walden-ish leverage soon to see if its real.
Due to his arm slot, I expected to see a big drop-off in effectiveness against LHH. That is indeed what his 2019 numbers show (.767 OPS allowed to LHH, but only .577 to RHH), but in earlier years he had much smaller, and occasionally reverse, splits.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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I suspect that Diekman and Smith are the only 2 out of this list of the 5 guys that Sox have a chance of picking up... I don't have the slightest clue what the asking price would be or what the Sox have that would satisfy their respective teams asking price. As far as the farm goes, Ockimey seems redundant in long term replacement and supply to the ML club but I'm not sure what sort of value he has. Dalbec and Casas would be the only two that I think the Sox wouldn't part with. Either of these two relievers (Diekman and Smith) would be a great addition and would bump all the other relievers to a more appropriate role. That said... is Shawaryn, Johnson and soon- Wright, be additions enough? I do think the Sox payroll can accommodate either of the two for the remainder of the season without breaking the 2nd tax threshold.
 

Green Monster

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Not seeing any discussion about Cody Allen......Curious what the thoughts might be

Once a very solid/dependable reliever who is only 30yo but has struggled recently. Doesn't sound like he is hurt. Is this a mechanical issue that can be corrected? Should the Sox take a chance once he clears waivers, Perhaps a stint at AAA to regain some confidence??
 
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Benni

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I think Will Smith would be a good target for the Sox. I don’t know what the Giants would want for him. I really think we need an established closer arm to help this pen.
 

nvalvo

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I think Will Smith would be a good target for the Sox. I don’t know what the Giants would want for him. I really think we need an established closer arm to help this pen.
@redsoxstats on twitter, our own SoxScout, posted a list of recent midseason reliever trades to help gauge the market. With a few exceptions (Francisco Mejia for Brand Hand and Adam Cimber), the prices are not exorbitant. It feels like Ockimey could probably be the centerpiece of such a deal, or one of the lesser of our portfolio of power hitting A ball third basemen. So the Giants match up well with us, mostly because they should be interested in high-ceiling prospects who are two or three years out, and that's the strength of our system.

(SF isn't going to manage a quick retool. They have some bad contracts to work through: They have ~$120m committed in 2020 to Posey, Cueto, Samardzija, Belt, Crawford, Longoria, and Melancon, who have collectively been worth 2.3 WAR so far this season. Some of those guys start to leave their books in 2021, and most are off by 2022.)

The other possibility in a deal with SF, because they have a deep bullpen on a team otherwise led by Pablo Sandoval in WAR, is giving them a better prospect for *two* good relievers: e.g. two from among the group of Will Smith ($4.23m AAV, FA), Tony Watson ($3.5m AAV I think — it's a complicated deal with incentives — including a player option for 2020), or Sam Dyson ($5m AAV, Arb3 in 2020). Those salaries would be prorated, so we're getting to the point in the season where somebody like Smith fits into our tiny amount of room before the highest CBT threshold even before shedding any money. (You could also imagine SF taking Núñez back to help balance the money and get a better prospect.)

They also have interesting younger relievers with lower salaries and more control left in Reyes Moronta and Trevor Gott, but those players will presumably have more value to them.

(I checked, and Evan Longoria has now passed Sandoval in 2019 bWAR.)
 

Benni

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@redsoxstats on twitter, our own SoxScout, posted a list of recent midseason reliever trades to help gauge the market. With a few exceptions (Francisco Mejia for Brand Hand and Adam Cimber), the prices are not exorbitant. It feels like Ockimey could probably be the centerpiece of such a deal, or one of the lesser of our portfolio of power hitting A ball third basemen. So the Giants match up well with us, mostly because they should be interested in high-ceiling prospects who are two or three years out, and that's the strength of our system.

(SF isn't going to manage a quick retool. They have some bad contracts to work through: They have ~$120m committed in 2020 to Posey, Cueto, Samardzija, Belt, Crawford, Longoria, and Melancon, who have collectively been worth 2.3 WAR so far this season. Some of those guys start to leave their books in 2021, and most are off by 2022.)

The other possibility in a deal with SF, because they have a deep bullpen on a team otherwise led by Pablo Sandoval in WAR, is giving them a better prospect for *two* good relievers: e.g. two from among the group of Will Smith ($4.23m AAV, FA), Tony Watson ($3.5m AAV I think — it's a complicated deal with incentives — including a player option for 2020), or Sam Dyson ($5m AAV, Arb3 in 2020). Those salaries would be prorated, so we're getting to the point in the season where somebody like Smith fits into our tiny amount of room before the highest CBT threshold even before shedding any money. (You could also imagine SF taking Núñez back to help balance the money and get a better prospect.)

They also have interesting younger relievers with lower salaries and more control left in Reyes Moronta and Trevor Gott, but those players will presumably have more value to them.

(I checked, and Evan Longoria has now passed Sandoval in 2019 bWAR.)
Good info. Let’s go DD get on it.
 

Green Monster

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Not seeing any discussion about Cody Allen......Curious what the thoughts might be

Once a very solid/dependable reliever who is only 30yo but has struggled recently. Doesn't sound like he is hurt. Is this a mechanical issue that can be corrected? Should the Sox take a chance once he clears waivers, Perhaps a stint at AAA to regain some confidence??
 

BaseballJones

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Current numbers in the bullpen....

The pretty damned good
Barnes: 3.38 era, 1.16 whip, 16.6 k/9
Workman: 1.60 era, 0.95 whip, 12.3 k/9
Walden: 2.50 era, 0.98 whip, 9.8 k/9
Hembree: 2.51 era, 1.12 whip, 11.0 k/9

The mediocre
Brasier: 3.64 era, 1.05 whip, 7.9 k/9
Brewer: 4.35 era, 1.71 whip, 8.7 k/9

The pretty horrible
Smith: 6.28 era, 1.67 whip, 7.5 k/9
Taylor: 8.53 era, 1.90 whip, 11.4 k/9
 

AB in DC

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I thought Velazquez was activated yesterday to replace Smith. He's basically just replacement-level, but that's still better than some of the AAA "talent" that the Sox have been using lately.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Current numbers in the bullpen....

The pretty damned good
Barnes: 3.38 era, 1.16 whip, 16.6 k/9
Workman: 1.60 era, 0.95 whip, 12.3 k/9
Walden: 2.50 era, 0.98 whip, 9.8 k/9
Hembree: 2.51 era, 1.12 whip, 11.0 k/9

The mediocre
Brasier: 3.64 era, 1.05 whip, 7.9 k/9

Brewer: 4.35 era, 1.71 whip, 8.7 k/9

The pretty horrible
Smith: 6.28 era, 1.67 whip, 7.5 k/9
Taylor: 8.53 era, 1.90 whip, 11.4 k/9
Brasier's WHIP strikes me as a little out of synch with his ERA. It's currently the 3rd best on the squad (better than Barnes!!!) and the ERA will correct itself closer to a 2.25 ERA. Brasier is good.... not great and strikes me as a key cog in the pen this year. Still need either Wright, Sharwyn or Johnson to be on the pretty damned good side and Brasier to correct his recent bump (last night looked good to me) OR to add one of the bigger pen arms that are up for rent
 

shaggydog2000

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Current numbers in the bullpen....

The pretty damned good
Barnes: 3.38 era, 1.16 whip, 16.6 k/9
Workman: 1.60 era, 0.95 whip, 12.3 k/9
Walden: 2.50 era, 0.98 whip, 9.8 k/9
Hembree: 2.51 era, 1.12 whip, 11.0 k/9

The mediocre
Brasier: 3.64 era, 1.05 whip, 7.9 k/9
Brewer: 4.35 era, 1.71 whip, 8.7 k/9

The pretty horrible
Smith: 6.28 era, 1.67 whip, 7.5 k/9
Taylor: 8.53 era, 1.90 whip, 11.4 k/9
The Sox relievers have the 7th best fWAR in the MLB. 6th best ERA. 6th best FIP. 8th best xFIP. 9th best HR/9. And the best K/9. Turns out they don't suck.

They just have bad stretches, and some back of the roster guys that aren't very good. Like every other bullpen. No reason not to try to improve it, but it's not a glaring weakness.

For example, the starting pitchers have almost identical ranking for fWAR, FIP, and xFIP, and we're not freaking out about them. They also have an issue at the very end of the rotation not being great. Because that is normal as well. They're also 6th in runs scored and 7th in position player fWAR. There is no grouping on the team that is holding it back, unless you want to go position by position, and once again not having an above average player at every position is normal even for great teams.
 

chrisfont9

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If you look at his numbers, it shows two seasons (or working on two seasons) of disturbing upticks in walks, OPS against, etc. That suggests he's not a quick fix away from returning to prominence.

 

nvalvo

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The Sox relievers have the 7th best fWAR in the MLB. 6th best ERA. 6th best FIP. 8th best xFIP. 9th best HR/9. And the best K/9. Turns out they don't suck.

They just have bad stretches, and some back of the roster guys that aren't very good. Like every other bullpen. No reason not to try to improve it, but it's not a glaring weakness.

For example, the starting pitchers have almost identical ranking for fWAR, FIP, and xFIP, and we're not freaking out about them. They also have an issue at the very end of the rotation not being great. Because that is normal as well. They're also 6th in runs scored and 7th in position player fWAR. There is no grouping on the team that is holding it back, unless you want to go position by position, and once again not having an above average player at every position is normal even for great teams.
This is a really good post.
 

BaseballJones

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The Sox relievers have the 7th best fWAR in the MLB. 6th best ERA. 6th best FIP. 8th best xFIP. 9th best HR/9. And the best K/9. Turns out they don't suck.

They just have bad stretches, and some back of the roster guys that aren't very good. Like every other bullpen. No reason not to try to improve it, but it's not a glaring weakness.

For example, the starting pitchers have almost identical ranking for fWAR, FIP, and xFIP, and we're not freaking out about them. They also have an issue at the very end of the rotation not being great. Because that is normal as well. They're also 6th in runs scored and 7th in position player fWAR. There is no grouping on the team that is holding it back, unless you want to go position by position, and once again not having an above average player at every position is normal even for great teams.
Yep. I was just pointing out the guys that are doing well, so-so, and not so well.
 

BaseballJones

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Don't take my reply as a criticism, I was trying to re-enforce how many of them were doing a good job.
Yep agreed. I was listening to Ordway today (maybe my first mistake) and he was complaining about the bullpen and how it's not even close to being good enough. That was the impetus for me posting their stats - turns out most of them are doing pretty darned well.
 

Adrian's Dome

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When you factor in that the guys at the end of the pen dragging down the overall numbers (Brewer, Smith, Thornburg, Taylor, etc) won't see a postseason roster, it makes the squad even better by comparison.

This team may not be the 2018 squad, but I guarantee nobody is looking forward to seeing a Sale/Price 1-2 in the playoffs followed by the Barnes/Walden/Workman/Brasier/Starter X on rest combo.
 

Green Monster

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If you look at his numbers, it shows two seasons (or working on two seasons) of disturbing upticks in walks, OPS against, etc. That suggests he's not a quick fix away from returning to prominence.

Yep, and K/9 still above 11 would suggest he can still get guys out. Increased walks are a concern as you point out. Certainly not saying he is a sure thing, but I really can't see the downside of taking a gamble on a 30 yo pitcher with 150 career saves on a minor league deal. All the more reason, given the Sox salary situation and thin farm system
 

EricFeczko

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Yep, and K/9 still above 11 would suggest he can still get guys out. Increased walks are a concern as you point out. Certainly not saying he is a sure thing, but I really can't see the downside of taking a gamble on a 30 yo pitcher with 150 career saves on a minor league deal. All the more reason, given the Sox salary situation and thin farm system
A 3 percent drop in swinging strike rate, with a little more than a third of pitches in the strikezone, coupled with a 1 MPH velocity drop, suggest that he's become ineffective and the strikeouts he's getting are the result of pitching out of the zone.

That's because the problem has already been fixed. In March/April, Sox starters were 9th of 15 in the AL in fWAR. They're now 4th.
By this logic, the bullpen is not an issue. Over the past 30 days the red sox bullpen has been 11th in ERA, 6th in FIP, and 11th in xFIP and 7th in WAR (5th in the AL).
 

BaseballJones

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Yesterday is an interesting case for the bullpen. One of their best relievers blew the save in the 8th. Then another reliever blew another save in the 13th. Two blown saves in one game. Hard to do. But then...they ended up putting up this line: 11.1 ip, 11 h, 3 r, 3 er, 5 bb, 14 k, 2.38 era, 1.41 whip, 11.1 k/9

So on the whole, terrific work by the bullpen, and yet they blew the game TWICE.
 

bosox79

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Yep, and K/9 still above 11 would suggest he can still get guys out. Increased walks are a concern as you point out. Certainly not saying he is a sure thing, but I really can't see the downside of taking a gamble on a 30 yo pitcher with 150 career saves on a minor league deal. All the more reason, given the Sox salary situation and thin farm system
He's been giving up more HRs than ever before too. I'm sure it won't stay at 3.5/9 but this is the 4th year in a row that number has climbed.