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.
 
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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.
 

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.
 

jmcc5400

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3 innings. 1 hit. 2 walks. 50 pitches. 17 pitches per inning. Seems like an OK bridge to me.
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.
 

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
 

BaseballJones

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Overall, here's where Boston ranks among all MLB teams in total pitching....

ERA: #10 (3.70)
ERA+: #8 (119)
FIP: #2 (3.15)
WHIP: #19 (1.31)
K/9: #18 (9.2)
HR allowed: #2 (9)
QS: tied for last (1)

The QS number is because their starters are basically going 5 every game. Eovaldi went longer yesterday but gave up 4 runs, so not a QS. Basically they're letting guys get on base but they're keeping them in the ballpark at a really solid rate.
 

bosockboy

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Overall, here's where Boston ranks among all MLB teams in total pitching....

ERA: #10 (3.70)
ERA+: #8 (119)
FIP: #2 (3.15)
WHIP: #19 (1.31)
K/9: #18 (9.2)
HR allowed: #2 (9)
QS: tied for last (1)

The QS number is because their starters are basically going 5 every game. Eovaldi went longer yesterday but gave up 4 runs, so not a QS. Basically they're letting guys get on base but they're keeping them in the ballpark at a really solid rate.
Bend but don’t break.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Is 5IP with 2 runs allowed the "new quality start"?

More serious question though: If the optimism regarding Whitlock here is applicable, where does that put the Sox minor league starting pitching future?
Suddenly having Houck, Whitlcock, Seabold, Mata and Grooms as all projectable middle rotation guys at the least (as far as projections!) go..... wouldn't the entire system start to really look pretty damned rosy?
 

burstnbloom

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Is 5IP with 2 runs allowed the "new quality start"?

More serious question though: If the optimism regarding Whitlock here is applicable, where does that put the Sox minor league starting pitching future?
Suddenly having Houck, Whitlcock, Seabold, Mata and Grooms as all projectable middle rotation guys at the least (as far as projections!) go..... wouldn't the entire system start to really look pretty damned rosy?
I think its still relatively mehhh. Houck has been a revelation but the community still mostly sees him as a reliever. Seabold appears to have been undervalued at the time of the trade but even with his stuff ticking up he's a 4th or 5th starter ceiling guy. Mata's injury is concerning and could end up with him in the bullpen and Groome is a complete wild card at this point.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I think its still relatively mehhh. Houck has been a revelation but the community still mostly sees him as a reliever. Seabold appears to have been undervalued at the time of the trade but even with his stuff ticking up he's a 4th or 5th starter ceiling guy. Mata's injury is concerning and could end up with him in the bullpen and Groome is a complete wild card at this point.
Forgive the question, but what is "the community" in this context?
 

BaseballJones

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Key bullpen guys so far:

Barnes: 1.13 era, 0.50 whip, 16.9 k/9
Andriese: 1.86 era, 1.45 whip, 8.4 k/9
Sawamura: 2.45 era, 1.23 whip, 6.1 k/9
Hernandez: 1.50 era, 1.83 whip, 9.0 k/9
Whitlock: 0.00 era, 0.33 whip, 11.0 k/9
Valdez: 2.25 era, 0.50 whip, 5.6 k/9

On the negative side:

Ottavino: 7.71 era, 2.14 whip, 15.4 k/9
Brice: 5.79 era, 1.50 whip, 5.8 k/9
Taylor: 9.53 era, 2.65 whip, 7.9 k/9

But on the whole, the bullpen has been outstanding. Brice and Taylor need to be the mop-up guys. Ottavino just needs to improve. The rest need to keep on doing what they're doing (would like to see Hernandez' whip come down).
 

jmcc5400

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I think its still relatively mehhh. Houck has been a revelation but the community still mostly sees him as a reliever. Seabold appears to have been undervalued at the time of the trade but even with his stuff ticking up he's a 4th or 5th starter ceiling guy. Mata's injury is concerning and could end up with him in the bullpen and Groome is a complete wild card at this point.
How dare you. Fine, what about Noah Song then, huh?
 

azsoxpatsfan

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Key bullpen guys so far:

Barnes: 1.13 era, 0.50 whip, 16.9 k/9
Andriese: 1.86 era, 1.45 whip, 8.4 k/9
Sawamura: 2.45 era, 1.23 whip, 6.1 k/9
Hernandez: 1.50 era, 1.83 whip, 9.0 k/9
Whitlock: 0.00 era, 0.33 whip, 11.0 k/9
Valdez: 2.25 era, 0.50 whip, 5.6 k/9

On the negative side:

Ottavino: 7.71 era, 2.14 whip, 15.4 k/9
Brice: 5.79 era, 1.50 whip, 5.8 k/9
Taylor: 9.53 era, 2.65 whip, 7.9 k/9

But on the whole, the bullpen has been outstanding. Brice and Taylor need to be the mop-up guys. Ottavino just needs to improve. The rest need to keep on doing what they're doing (would like to see Hernandez' whip come down).
Darwinzon and Sawamura both have pretty worrisome FIPS, and I could easily see them performing worse if they can't let fewer guys on (Hernandez) or induce softer and less contact (Sawamura). That said, Ottavino has a 2.24 FIP and Taylor has a 2.92, so we could see them start to get results more in line with how they've been throwing the ball (although I'll never trust Taylor to be good, regardless of what Fangraphs says). Austin Brice is just awful
 

nvalvo

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I think its still relatively mehhh. Houck has been a revelation but the community still mostly sees him as a reliever. Seabold appears to have been undervalued at the time of the trade but even with his stuff ticking up he's a 4th or 5th starter ceiling guy. Mata's injury is concerning and could end up with him in the bullpen and Groome is a complete wild card at this point.
This is a good list, but it omits Song, who spent one year of his military commitment during a season when there was no minor league baseball anyway.

edit: My bad. I neglected to read all the posts before responding, and it's been covered.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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(would like to see Hernandez' whip come down).
How many posts to pitchers trying to bring their "whip down" reply with the Rolling Stones tune?

When the shit hits the fan
I'll be sitting on the can
When the whip comes down
Yeah, some called me garbage
When I was sleeping on the street
I never roll
Oh I never cheat
And I'm filling a need, yeah
I'm plugging a hole
My mama's so glad
I ain't on the dole
When the whip comes down, yeah
When the whip comes down, yeah
When the shit hits the fan
I'll be sitting on the can
When the whip comes down
When the whip comes down
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Not sure about Ottavino..... would prefer to start seeing Whitlock take his "spot" in the BP hierarchy

Despite the horrendous performance last night, I'm actually still bullish on Hernandez but think he needs time at AAA.
 

Al Zarilla

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Whitlock didn't pitch last year and threw 70 innings in 2019. How many innings do you think he could safely handle in 2021?
People here want him to do the other side of the barbell, so, 70. He's actually on pace for 72.9 right now. I would think the powers that be want less, especially considering playoffs. Playoffs?!
 

nvalvo

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Whitlock didn't pitch last year and threw 70 innings in 2019. How many innings do you think he could safely handle in 2021?
I'm with Lose.

We basically stole what looks like a legit SP prospect from the Yankees (with an assist from Matt Andriese passing on some changeup-related wisdom), and people here want to chew him up as a high-lev reliever for a wildcard contender in the midst of a probably-illusory hot start? Pass.

He's coming back from surgery and a lost season. Cora's throwing him every fourth game or so to protect his arm, and I'm very glad he's approaching it that way.

People here want him to do the other side of the barbell, so, 70. He's actually on pace for 72.9 right now. I would think the powers that be want less, especially considering playoffs. Playoffs?!
70 IP out of the bullpen is a pretty different workload from 70 IP as a starter, and I think you know that.
 

Al Zarilla

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I'm with Lose.

We basically stole what looks like a legit SP prospect from the Yankees (with an assist from Matt Andriese passing on some changeup-related wisdom), and people here want to chew him up as a high-lev reliever for a wildcard contender in the midst of a probably-illusory hot start? Pass.

He's coming back from surgery and a lost season. Cora's throwing him every fourth game or so to protect his arm, and I'm very glad he's approaching it that way.



70 IP out of the bullpen is a pretty different workload from 70 IP as a starter, and I think you know that.
Yeah, I shouldn't post anything before coffee.
 

Max Power

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Coming into the season, it seemed like Cora thought his bullpen hierarchy was

Barnes
Ottavino
Hernandez
Sawamura
Taylor
Andriese
Valdez
Brice
Whitlock

It's still early, but right now it's looking like it should be more like

Barnes
Sawamura
Andriese
Whitlock
Ottavino
Valdez
Hernandez
Taylor
Brice

It would be nice to see them deployed in something closer to that until the guys at the bottom show they can throw strikes, but I don't know anything about the personalities involved here. Cora is seeing the same things we are and still using Ottavino, Hernandez, and [to a lesser extent] Taylor in tight games. Either he thinks the samples are still too small to be meaningful, or there are long term advantages to showing confidence in guys with talent who are struggling.
 

phenweigh

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I'm with Lose.

We basically stole what looks like a legit SP prospect from the Yankees (with an assist from Matt Andriese passing on some changeup-related wisdom), and people here want to chew him up as a high-lev reliever for a wildcard contender in the midst of a probably-illusory hot start? Pass.

He's coming back from surgery and a lost season. Cora's throwing him every fourth game or so to protect his arm, and I'm very glad he's approaching it that way.

70 IP out of the bullpen is a pretty different workload from 70 IP as a starter, and I think you know that.
Whitlock has 4 appearances in 21 games, essentially the same number of appearances he'd have as a starter. If that usage keeps up, his workload will be like a starter.

How many innings should he get with this type of workload?