Everyone knows the Red Sox bullpen is a problem, and there really isn’t anyone in the organization that is going to be able to take it to the level it needs to be at. Yes, Durbin Feltman and Darwinzon Hernandez have very intriguing upside the likes of which is essentially unseen on the major-league roster. That said, both have shown they have some work to do to be major-league ready and even when they are they are extremely unproven.
Still, while the final version of this bullpen will almost certainly include someone from outside the organization making an impact, they also haven’t really been at full strength of late. With Heath Hembree on the injured list they aren’t going to be at full strength now, either, but a couple of roster moves ahead of their series in Minnesota does put them closer. Prior to Monday’s game Boston reinstated Hector Velázquez from the injured list and Ryan Brasier from the bereavement/family emergency list. To make room on the roster, Travis Lakins and Josh Smith were both optioned to Pawtucket.
Velázquez had been starting games for the Red Sox earlier in the year but was back in the bullpen prior to going down with his injury, trying to fill the rotation spot opened up by Nathan Eovaldi’s injury. He had been struggling a bit and was particularly bad the last time we saw him when he allowed four runs over two innings against the Indians. That was on May 29. Hopefully some time off got him back on track.
Brasier also had not looked good before he stepped away from the team. We don’t have the details on why exactly the righty was placed on the bereavement/family emergency list, but he has not pitched since June 10. Brasier has not looked quite as good as he did after coming up midway through the 2018 season, but we know the upside he possesses when everything that goes right.
The same goes for Velázquez for that matter, and both he and Brasier represent theoretical upgrades over Smith and Lakins. Again, this is not the final version of the Red Sox bullpen we want to see. That said, Velázquez is better for a multi-inning situation than Smith and Brasier is better later in games if you’re forced to dig into your middle relief for high-leverage spots than Lakins. Is that the highest bar imaginable? Not even close. Is it the reality of the situation for the Red Sox? Unfortunately, yes.