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2017 Red Sox Review: Addison Reed

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A look back at the 2017 for Boston’s half-year setup man.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Red Sox Review series. It’s a fairly standard feature in which we will review the year that was for every player who made a decently large impact on the Red Sox this year. How do I come up with that definition? Completely arbitrarily, of course! The list of players I’m using can be seen here, and if I am missing anyone please let me know in the comments. Anyway, for the players who are included we will look at the positives of their 2017, the negatives, review their One Big Question from the preseason and look ahead to what’s on the table for 2018. Today, we discuss Addison Reed.

The Positives

Addison Reed, of course, didn’t start the year with the Red Sox, but came to the team right at the trade deadline from the Mets. In return, Boston gave up a few interesting but ultimately expendable relief prospects in Jamie Callahan, Stephen Nogosek and Gerson Bautista. It wasn’t always a smooth ride for Reed in his coupe of months with Boston, but on the whole I’d say it was a positive experience. Most importantly, he held down and stabilized an eighth inning that was sort of in flux for the Red Sox all year. Granted, their bullpen was effective for the duration of 2017, but it was something of a revolving door of primary setup men behind Craig Kimbrel. Reed was immediately that guy, and he never gave up the role. (David Price was the better reliever, but he was a different breed of reliever.)

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Reed was particularly effective in the month of September when the Red Sox were in an intense fight with the Yankees for the division title. The righty ended up making 16 appearances for the Red Sox in the final month of the year and only allowed a run in two of them. Simply put, he got the job done just about every time he was called upon. He faced 59 batters in the month and held that to a stellar .170/.254./.321 line with 13 strikeouts and six walks in 14 23 innings.

Looking a little bit deeper at the two months Reed spent with the Red Sox, he had a couple of other lockdown roles. For one thing, he was phenomenal against right-handed batters, holding them to a .161/.246/.309 line with 16 strikeouts and six walks. Additionally, he held batters to a .115/.193/.269 line with 15 strikeouts and five walks at Fenway. Finally, and most importantly, he held opponents to an .045/.231/.048 line in high-leverage spots. Obviously, all of these splits came in extremely tiny samples, but that’s how things go with late-inning relievers.

The Negatives

While, for the most part, Reed did his job after joining the Red Sox bullpen, he certainly wasn’t perfect. For one thing, he had some strange control issues with Boston. One of the most intriguing aspects of his game was his ability to strike batters out without racking up free passes, a rare skill set in relievers. With Boston, however, he walked three batters per nine innings, something he hadn’t done since the first half of the 2015 season. For reference, he was consistently walked about one batter per nine innings with the Mets.

On top of the walks, he also had some trouble with the long ball, though this wasn’t unexpected. Reed has always been a big-time flyball pitcher, and going from the NL East to the AL East was sure to result in some homers. Still, that’s not a great quality for someone who pitches in late, high-leverage situations. In fact, it got him trouble in his very first appearance with the Red Sox when he allowed a solo home run to the first batter he faced in a two-run game. He’d eventually escape the inning with a one-run lead still intact, but it wasn’t a great first impression.

His final impression wasn’t all that great either, as he didn’t put up great numbers in the ALDS. To be fair, this was simply one bad performance, but that’s all it takes to mar an entire postseason for a late-inning reliever. In Game Two against the Astros, he entered with two on and the Red Sox facing a three-run deficit. By the time he left, it was a seven-run game. He’d toss 1 13 scoreless innings in two other appearances in the series, but the Game Two performance is the one we’ll remember.

The Big Question

N/A

Looking ahead to 2018

It would be a major upset if Reed ended up back in Boston for 2018. When Boston traded for him, it was with the understanding that he’d only be around for the rest of 2017. Dave Dombrowski will likely look for relief help, but not help as expensive as Reed. The righty should be one of the most highly sought after relievers on the market this winter and has the potential to be a closer or a high-end setup man. So far, the Cubs have expressed interest.