Bullpen '21

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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I read some of Tomase's "Questions...." for this team and while I don't really like him as a writer.... his bit about the bullpen had me feeling very optimistic, "
Now that he's out of COVID protocol, Barnes should close, with veteran right-hander Adam Ottavino and hard-throwing lefty Darwinzon Hernandez the primary setup men.
The Red Sox feature multiple looks, whether it's the power splitter of Japanese import Hirokazu Sawamura, the fastball/slider combo of Rule 5 pick Garrett Whitlock, 95 mph heat from left-hander Josh Taylor, or righty Phillips Valdez deploying his changeup. Barnes, Ottavino, Darwinzon Hernandez, Whitlock, and Taylor combined to allow only four runs in 33 spring innings. They appear locked in for the start of the season."

What are your thoughts about the team in general? Barnes still frightens me but can be so damned good when he's locked in. I personally think he's going to struggle and we'll start to see Hernandez turn into an All Star caliber "closer". Whitlock also I think will become "closer worthy".
 

joe dokes

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I've always thought that when Barnes is "on," he's too valuable to restrict to the 9th inning. Hernandez still walks too many for tight spots, but he can probably be good for clean innings. But among the rest, it looks like a group that will have several that can be good most of the time. That's pretty much my measure. A bullpen with lots of guys who are effective (nearly) all the time or most of time should work.
 

Saints Rest

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I read some of Tomase's "Questions...." for this team and while I don't really like him as a writer.... his bit about the bullpen had me feeling very optimistic, "
Now that he's out of COVID protocol, Barnes should close, with veteran right-hander Adam Ottavino and hard-throwing lefty Darwinzon Hernandez the primary setup men.
The Red Sox feature multiple looks, whether it's the power splitter of Japanese import Hirokazu Sawamura, the fastball/slider combo of Rule 5 pick Garrett Whitlock, 95 mph heat from left-hander Josh Taylor, or righty Phillips Valdez deploying his changeup. Barnes, Ottavino, Darwinzon Hernandez, Whitlock, and Taylor combined to allow only four runs in 33 spring innings. They appear locked in for the start of the season."

What are your thoughts about the team in general? Barnes still frightens me but can be so damned good when he's locked in. I personally think he's going to struggle and we'll start to see Hernandez turn into an All Star caliber "closer". Whitlock also I think will become "closer worthy".
Not to derail, but your speculation on Hernandez, got me thinking about lefty closers. Why do we see so few? Is it because a good lefty starter is so rare and valuable that you push lefties to start? Is it because a lefty can be successful without throwing 98 and closers tend to be hard-throwers? Or am I simply dismissing the fact that lefties are a small percentage of the general population (supposedly around 10%) and are simply a commensurate (within MOE) percentage of closers?
 

Harry Hooper

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Sean McAdam has a good piece on the 2021 Sox as they head north. It features comments from talent evaluators, and I think this one is spot on:

SCOUT’S TAKE
: “I expect that Sawamura, sooner of later, will show up in closer’s role. With that split, it’s almost inevitable. I know that everyone is worked up about the back end, but that will resolve itself, one way or another. It always does. There’s a lot of different looks here, from stuff to style, and that’s a good thing. I don’t know quite to expect from Ottavino, but I know he’ll compete. Barnes nibbles too much. He can be overpowering at times, but I still have to be convinced trust him in back end. He’s stubborn. Hernandez is kind of an enigma. If it were up to me, he’d be back at Triple A, learning on how to use all three pitches and working on repeating his delivery (as a starter).”
 

Coachster

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I've wondered myself. I just looked this up, and it appears that 39% of MLB hitters are left handed. I always assumed there were more RH closers simply because you'll get a better match-up 60% of the time. Who knows...
 

Danny_Darwin

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nvalvo

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View: https://twitter.com/alexspeier/status/1377638473461600256


Cora still non-committal on a closer, which makes me wonder why we think he's going to name a closer. He wouldn't do it in 2019. Is there reason to think that philosophy has changed? (I'll grant that there might have been some sort of announcement I missed)
For me, personally, my favorite thing about Cora's management was his approach to the bullpen.

I *love* the thing where he matches up his better relievers to sections of the lineup, and then deploys them with late leads when those batters are due. It gives the pitchers a sense of their role and aids pre-game preparation — i.e. you study up on tape of how pitchers with stuff similar to yours have gotten out Stanton and Judge; you focus on Sanchez and Hicks; you focus on LeMahieu and Voit (or whatever) — and helps them anticipate when they'll be called upon without pinning it, LaRussa-style, to the seventh/eighth/ninth.

But Cora has said in public that he felt that that approach may have burned up Barnes, who pitched really well in the first half of 2019, and only pretty well in the second half after making like 40 appearances in the first half. That said, he got a ton of high leverage innings, and was tenth among MLB relievers in leverage when he entered games (if I'm understanding those stats correctly), and pitched pretty well overall. I think that might be why some in the press expected him to name a closer, but then, the Boston sports press has mischaracterized Cora's bullpen strategy about 90% of the time that they've discussed it, so I think it's pretty likely that they are leaping to unsupported conclusions based on their own misapprehensions of what he's trying to achieve.

I do think Cora is at the forefront of in-game bullpen management, and I'll be interested to see what he actually does with this group.
 

jon abbey

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If I were Cora, I would want to see Ottavino not walking guys for at least a few games before I made him the closer. The thing with him is that he can't hold runners on so if he is also walking guys, you really don't want him to be the guy to try to nail down a one run game.
 

CoffeeNerdness

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Very impressed with Garrett Whitlock's outing today. He wasn't exactly painting with his fastball, but it looked heavy with good downward movement and induced two weak flyouts. His change-up looked fantastic. He threw two straight to the first batter he faced and got an easy out. He struck out Mountcastle on three straight pitches- the third of which was another change-up buried down and in to the righty batter. Cruised through the seventh with two more K's and a weak fly out. Good stuff.
 
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What an improvement over last year. Bullpen looks to be a strength of this team. As long as the starters can give them 5+ on average per outing this has the makings over a better than average pitching staff.
 

Rasputin

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What an improvement over last year. Bullpen looks to be a strength of this team. As long as the starters can give them 5+ on average per outing this has the makings over a better than average pitching staff.
Josh Taylor looks legitimately terrible, but he's the only one I can say that about so a massive improvement over last year and if we can replace him with someone who doesn't, I won't have to feel like I want to murder the people on my team and that's always a plus.

Is Brasier the one that did some kind of shittery last year?
 

edoug

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Josh Taylor looks legitimately terrible, but he's the only one I can say that about so a massive improvement over last year and if we can replace him with someone who doesn't, I won't have to feel like I want to murder the people on my team and that's always a plus.

Is Brasier the one that did some kind of shittery last year?
On the field, he wasn't terrible. Off the field, yeah.
 

Apisith

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Something is not right with Taylor. He's lost around 1.5mph from his fastball relative to 2019. Maybe it was the long break from then to the delayed start in 2020 because he was quite good in 2019. His velocity dropped in 2020 and 2021 is following the same trend. He won't last long if he doesn't regain the velocity.
 

rodderick

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Very impressed with Garrett Whitlock's outing today. He wasn't exactly painting with his fastball, but it looked heavy with good downward movement and induced two weak flyouts. His change-up looked fantastic. He threw two straight to the first batter he faced and got an easy out. He struck out Mountcastle on three straight pitches- the third of which was another change-up buried down and in to the righty batter. Cruised through the seventh with two more K's and a weak fly out. Good stuff.
That change up is filthy and the fastball has just enough movement not to look like a beachball in comparison. Also think he spotted everything well. Couldn't be more impressed with these first few outings, dude has looked tremendous.
 

Comfortably Lomb

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Josh Taylor looks legitimately terrible, but he's the only one I can say that about so a massive improvement over last year and if we can replace him with someone who doesn't, I won't have to feel like I want to murder the people on my team and that's always a plus.

Is Brasier the one that did some kind of shittery last year?
Yep. Brasier was "very apologetic" though. :rolleyes:
 

jmcc5400

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Just 26/50 strikes today from the Sawamura-Ottavino-Darwinzon bridge to Barnes. Each has swing and miss stuff, but their command issues are going to plague us in late inning high leverage situations if they can't do better. (Obviously, it was 30 degrees, but this isn't a one-time phenomenon for any of them). I think they need to be considering Whitlock for a more prominent set up role.
 

BornToRun

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Just 26/50 strikes today from the Sawamura-Ottavino-Darwinzon bridge to Barnes. Each has swing and miss stuff, but their command issues are going to plague us in late inning high leverage situations if they can't do better. (Obviously, it was 30 degrees, but this isn't a one-time phenomenon for any of them). I think they need to be considering Whitlock for a more prominent set up role.
My biggest concern with our pen is pretty much this. They’ve got a lot of talent but it’s all along the same lines of “nasty stuff, no idea where it’s going” and even Barnes, as we know, can have trouble throwing strikes at times. I’d like someone I can count on to fill up the strike zone on a more consistent basis to work alongside those guys.
 

Minneapolis Millers

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My biggest concern with our pen is pretty much this. They’ve got a lot of talent but it’s all along the same lines of “nasty stuff, no idea where it’s going” and even Barnes, as we know, can have trouble throwing strikes at times. I’d like someone I can count on to fill up the strike zone on a more consistent basis to work alongside those guys.
Yeah, but that’s the nature of bullpens. If you have enough guys with nasty stuff, and a manager who knows how to recognize and emphasize the hot hands, that can work.
 

BringBackMo

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Just 26/50 strikes today from the Sawamura-Ottavino-Darwinzon bridge to Barnes. Each has swing and miss stuff, but their command issues are going to plague us in late inning high leverage situations if they can't do better. (Obviously, it was 30 degrees, but this isn't a one-time phenomenon for any of them). I think they need to be considering Whitlock for a more prominent set up role.
3 innings. 1 hit. 2 walks. 50 pitches. 17 pitches per inning. Seems like an OK bridge to me.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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3 innings. 1 hit. 2 walks. 50 pitches. 17 pitches per inning. Seems like an OK bridge to me.
This is exactly right. Few pens have three guys who can be collectively more efficient than that, at least not on a regular basis. Zero runs is the most important stat.
 

Niastri

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It's great if everyone agrees to go 0-4 on balls hit 99 MPH or harder as the Twins did during those three innings.
You need luck to keep a win streak going sometimes.

I wonder if it's coincidence that we have cornered the market on guys with good stuff that happen to be wild? It's better to have a walk/strikeout pitcher than a high contact guy who relies on his defence, maybe?

Still, it's easy to be more optimistic after the last week of good baseball and good results.
 

jmcc5400

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Without a doubt. I'm ecstatic and one of the reasons I'm "complaining" about the bullpen is because I want to talk about this team.
 

BringBackMo

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It's great if everyone agrees to go 0-4 on balls hit 99 MPH or harder as the Twins did during those three innings.
Is the problem the wildness of the bridge relievers or their propensity to give up hard contact? Or is it both? Regardless of the answer, we’re dealing with a rather limited sample size here. My...guess (because, really, I don’t think we can know yet) is that the bullpen in this bridge year will be a bit of a plus for the team. But maybe not.
 

JMDurron

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You need luck to keep a win streak going sometimes.

I wonder if it's coincidence that we have cornered the market on guys with good stuff that happen to be wild? It's better to have a walk/strikeout pitcher than a high contact guy who relies on his defence, maybe?

Still, it's easy to be more optimistic after the last week of good baseball and good results.
For this particular team, with it's particular defense, it may very well be better to have a walk/strikeout heavy bullpen than a set of more high contact guys. I'm not sure how to assess the defense of players who rotate positions as often as Hernandez and Gonzalez do, but my "eye test" doesn't see a particularly rangy, reliable group of defenders in our starting 9.
 

joe dokes

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It's great if everyone agrees to go 0-4 on balls hit 99 MPH or harder as the Twins did during those three innings.
It was a strange BABiP game. Without looking at exit velocity, Min had some loud outs, a leadoff broken bat double, a bloop that fell in front of an OF, JDM hit the same blasted DP ball at Simmons (same as the one Arroyo turned).

For this particular team, with it's particular defense, it may very well be better to have a walk/strikeout heavy bullpen than a set of more high contact guys. I'm not sure how to assess the defense of players who rotate positions as often as Hernandez and Gonzalez do, but my "eye test" doesn't see a particularly rangy, reliable group of defenders in our starting 9.
This is a good point.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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For this particular team, with it's particular defense, it may very well be better to have a walk/strikeout heavy bullpen than a set of more high contact guys. I'm not sure how to assess the defense of players who rotate positions as often as Hernandez and Gonzalez do, but my "eye test" doesn't see a particularly rangy, reliable group of defenders in our starting 9.
I don't know either way. Defense has seemed pretty solid to me. Not stellar, but guys have been making plays and positioning themselves well. I'm really wondering about Arroyo... he's been looking pretty solid both defensively and at the plate too. I know he was more of a throw-in guy for the trade last season but he's looking more than replacement level as a 2B... his OBP skills leave something to be desired and not sure if he can keep up a +.400 SLG throughout a whole season. I'll happily take a .750 OPS either way out of him with what I am seeing as average-ish defense.
 

azsoxpatsfan

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While doing some scrolling through Fangraphs, I noticed something remarkable. Matt Barnes has a FIP so far of -0.01. I looked it up and it's happened in small stretches before, but basically the pitcher has been so dominant in a small stretch that the FIP formula can't calculate it accurately and comes up with a negative number. His xFIP is 0.73, which is also just insane. Also, he's been worth 0.5 fWAR already in 7 innings