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Daily Red Sox Links: Hector Velazquez wasn’t just another pitcher in April

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Welcome to today’s links where you can make an argument that Hector Velazquez was the most valuable arm in the Red Sox bullpen during April. Plus

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

This is May. That means that April is over and the first month of the season is behind us. Make sure to continue savoring all that baseball because eventually it will be gone and winter and football will be inescapable.

In the first month of the season, the Boston Red Sox have done a lot of great things. They’ve hit a whole bunch of grand slams, thrown a lit match on their rivalry with the New York Yankees and avoided being vanquished by Shohei Ohtani. But what they have done best is win baseball games. With 21 wins in 28 games, they have heard “Dirty Water” more times than usual. They also set a franchise record for wins in April with 19. So, yeah, things are pretty good right now.

Pushing them to that success has been solid excellent pitching, thanks primarily to Rick Porcello and Chris Sale. The bullpen has also had its star standouts. In fact, let me introduce you to two pitchers.

Pitcher one is a six-time All-Star making $13 million this season. He is 29-years-old and has pitched to an 1.42 ERA with seven saves and 16 strikeouts in 12 23 innings, even if he had some trouble last night.

Pitcher two is also 29-years-old, but has never made an All-Star team and is making $547,000 this year. He has pitched to a very good 2.05 ERA, but has only 15 strikeouts in 22 innings.

Now that we’ve met each pitcher, let’s guess who has been the more valuable pitcher this season. If you guessed pitcher one, you are correct. If you guessed pitcher two ... you are correct as well. That’s because by bWAR, both pitcher one and pitcher two have been worth 1.0 wins above replacement. While this is an imperfect way to compare two players, especially in such a small sample size, it is a telling illustration of just how important both pitchers were to the Red Sox in April.

Now let’s meet these pitchers. Pitcher one is closer extraordinaire Craig Kimbrel. Pitcher two is Hector Velazquez. The latter threw two scoreless innings of relief in April’s last game and improved to 4-0. He has not allowed an earned run since April 14 and can both handle being a starter and then jump in out of the bullpen. Swingmen are rarely superstars, but they are important members of a pitching staff because the nature of the position lends itself to plenty of injuries and plenty of need for players to fill in different spots.

What all this tells us is that Velazquez, who has been perfectly respectable in 46 23 career innings (4.23 FIP, 185 ERA+), has found his role on this team and he’s playing it marvelously.

Espionage is real in baseball, particularly with the discovery of tipping pitches. (Michael Silverman; Boston Herald)

There were four errors from the Red Sox yesterday. Boston is not a very good defensive team right now. (Christopher Smith; MassLive)

One of those miscues was nearly a “catcher’s balk” from Christian Vazquez. (Whitney McIntosh; SB Nation)

The poor defense is going to cut Eduardo Nunez’s playing time. (Sean McAdam; Boston Sports Journal)

At least Tyler Thornburg is going to be back soon? (Nick Cafardo; Boston Globe)

Plus, don’t forget the Red Sox’s awesome grand slams. (Brett Cowett; BP Boston)