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Let's Overreact About The Red Sox' Bullpen!

April 5, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Mark Melancon (37) pitches during the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers t Comerica Park. Detorit won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
April 5, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Mark Melancon (37) pitches during the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers t Comerica Park. Detorit won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

We're one game into the season, and with an 0-1 record, somebody has to be to blame.

The obvious scapegoat here is the bullpen, and frankly they did blow it. From Padilla's middle-middle fastball to Mark Melancon's dancing around in the top of the zone, it's no surprise that the Tigers were able to push across the runs they needed to take game one.

Normally, one game lost by the bullpen is an afterthought, but here we've got the perfect storm:

  1. Opening Day
  2. A dramatic comeback wasted
  3. An off day in before game two
  4. The Andrew Bailey situation

The result: a good old fashioned Boston media freakout making a mountain out of a molehill. Alfredo Aceves goes from 2011 hero to no-name pretender. Mark Melancon's excellent 2011? Never happened! He'll carry that 27.00 ERA through to the end of the season!

We're doomed!

For my part, I'm going to wait a few more weeks before I'm convinced this unit can't do it. I'm also going to remember that with a much worse team around it the 2010 Red Sox' bullpen featured all of one reliever with an ERA under 3.90 and still they managed to win 89 games. I expect more from this bullpen, and more from this team as a whole than that.

But let's not concern ourselves with being level-headed. Let's just enjoy some of the delightful hyperbole we're being treated to by the media. In fact, let's go ahead and have some fun with the hyperbole we're being treated to:

Minus the six pitches thrown by lefthander Franklin Morales, the trio of Vicente Padilla, Mark Melancon and Alfredo Aceves needed just two-thirds of an inning to do more damage than a herd of locusts.

Already, the relievers are eating away at the confidence and morale of this team.

-Tony Massarotti, Boston Globe

It started just like last season ended, with a ninth-inning implosion by a beleaguered bullpen and a long, lonely walk off the field in an unforgiving ballpark.


When the curtain finally rose yesterday and the 2012 Red Sox were unveiled for all to see, their greatest presumed flaw, one that may threaten to doom a season that barely has begun, was fully exposed in a 3-2 crusher by the Detroit Tigers before the second-largest crowd in the 13-year history of Comerica Park.


Just like last September. Replace the names - Aceves for Jonathan Papelbon, Jackson for Baltimore's Robert Andino - and the plot is the same.


Surely, the road ahead will be paved with more disappointments if the Red Sox don't bolster their pitching, especially the bullpen. The American League is as competitive as ever, spelling more close games against other tough teams.

-Scott Lauber, Boston Herald

To be fair to Scott, he segues into the team's positives for the second half of the article.

In the span of four batters, Mark Melancon and Alfredo Aceves managed to call into question half of the team's offseason. Melancon allowed two hits, then got yanked (more on that in a minute) for the new closer, who had spent all spring stretching out as a starter.

Aceves hit a batter, then served up Austin Jackson's walkoff single to left.

Ballgame finished. Questions only beginning.


Oh, and somebody cue up 1980s hair rockers Cinderella, because the closer the Red Sox didn't want to pay this winter, Jonathan Papelbon tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to preserve a 1-0 victory for Roy Halladay in his Phillies debut yesterday in Pittsburgh.

Don't know what you've got 'til it's gone, indeed.

-John Tomase, Boston Herald

Look, I get it, sensationalism sells papers. There's a huge portion of the fanbase which loves nothing more than to read about the worst aspects of the team and then call into radio shows and complain about them.

But let's try our best not to get pulled in by this just yet. Is the bullpen a concern? Yes. Is it a biblical herd of locusts? Not quite. It's a unit which perhaps lacks the marquee reliever, and when the Sox are left in a bad situation like they found themselves in with one out in the ninth yesterday, they might not be completely comfortable with their options. But it's not completely filled with disasters, and it's not a 9.00 ERA unit. Alfredo Aceves, Mark Melancon, Franklin Morales--these are players who can record outs, and as the season progresses the likes of Rich Hill and Andrew Bailey will make their way back as well.

One bad game is not the end of the world.