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Red Sox June Review: The bullpen leads the way in a huge month

The offense did its part as well.

Kansas City Royals v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

There was trouble around every corner on the schedule for the Red Sox in June. After a couple of big months to start the season, it seemed reasonable to believe this was the month that would have this team fall back to Earth. I know I certainly believed that would happen. But it didn’t. Offensively, they scored more runs than all but four teams throughout the month, and while their starting pitching was in the bottom ten of the league in June by ERA, they were picked up by a huge month from the bullpen, who finished with the third-best cumulative ERA in the game, and the best in the American League. Put it all together, and you get an 18-12 month that has them exactly halfway to a 100-win season.

It wouldn’t make sense to start anywhere but with this bullpen, which was the single most important part of the roster for this latest month of action. We talked recently about the group’s core of six — Matt Barnes, Adam Ottavino, Josh Taylor, Garrett Whitlock, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Hirokazu Sawamura — and they were all electric in his past month. I’ll let you look through the numbers yourself here, but I will note that none of these six had an ERA higher than 2.45, and Taylor specifically didn’t allow a run for the entire month.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

It wasn’t just those six, either, even if they were certainly the highlight. Brandon Workman has worked his way into a legitimate role with this bullpen, and he had a nice month of June with a 1.86 ERA, albeit in fewer innings and less pressure, generally speaking, when he came into games. Yacksel Ríos also had a sub-3.00 ERA in his time in the majors this month, although both he and Workman (and Sawamura, for what it’s worth) didn’t have peripherals to match the results. Of the relievers currently in the bullpen, the only guy who could be argued to have had a bad month was Matt Andriese, who finished with a 6.75 ERA.

If the bullpen was the best part of the roster in the month of June, the offense wasn’t all that far behind, although it wasn’t as balanced as the relief corps. As was the case with the pitching, I’ll let you look over the individual numbers while just highlighting a few notables. And it makes the most sense to start at the top, with Xander Bogaerts once again leading this group. He’s been the team’s best player all season, and even while some other players seemed like they were having better months it was the shortstop’s 153 wRC+ leading the team in June by a pretty significant margin.

Watching the games over the last 30 days, it’s probably fairly obvious that the next two leaders in the lineup were Hunter Renfroe and Rafael Devers. The former was just written about a couple of days ago on this very site, specifically regarding the potential for him to sneak his way into the All-Star Game. The latter is a shoo-in for an All-Star bid and likely to be named as a starter. The two had very similar months, with Renfroe and Devers posting wRC+’s of 137 and 136, respectively. They also both tied for the team lead (along with Bobby Dalbec) in homers with five.

As for the rest of the offense, it was a little more lackluster. Christian Arroyo was close to the top on a rate basis with a 125 wRC+, but he was limited to just 15 games due to injury. Both J.D. Martinez and Alex Verdugo hovered around league-average, which was on the disappointing end, while Kiké Hernández and Dalbec found themselves in the same range, but with a better feeling around it. As has been the case almost all season, it’d be Marwin Gonzalez and Danny Santana bringing up the rear, with the former coming in more than 40 percent worse than league-average by wRC+ while Santana’s mark of 0 indicates he was literally 100 percent worse than league-average.

But while it was a monster month for the Red Sox and they made their presence in this league known and solidified, the rotation started to show more cracks than any other point in the season. They only really had one good starter in the month, with Nathan Eovaldi taking the ace mantle and running with it. The righty pitched to a strong 3.00 ERA, complementing his average strikeout stuff with impeccable command.

Looking at the rest of the group, well, things are a little more concerning. Eduardo Rodriguez was bad again with an ERA over 6.00, but as has been the case for most of the season the peripherals show a guy who should be better than average. Both Nick Pivetta and Martín Pérez had some good moments, but their overall numbers still leave plenty to be desired with ERAs over 5.00. And finally, Garrett Richards brought up the rear, and well... Look at the numbers linked in the relievers section at your own peril.

Check out individual grades below (there is no particular order within tiers):

A: Barnes, Taylor, Ottavino, Whitlock, Bogaerts, Eovaldi, Renfroe, Devers

B: Sawamura, Ríos, Workman, Hernández, Dalbec, Arroyo

C: Martinez, Verdugo, Vázquez

D: Pérez, Pivetta, Rodriguez, Gonzalez

F: Richards, Santana