It’s hard to ever truly trust any reliever. For the most part, a pitcher who ends up in the bullpen does so because there is some kind of significant flaw in their repertoire. The nature of relief pitching means that the flaws can often be effectively buried, but they’re still there. And every now and again, those flaws make their way back up to the surface, resulting in the endlessly frustrating performance variance that nearly every bullpen arm is prone to.
So how much can you trust the Red Sox bullpen? We’ll try to sort that out for the rest of the season, taking a look at the bullpen each month (active pitchers and those imminently returning form injury, only) and deciding just how much faith you can put in each arm at this specific moment in time.
Here’s the first edition of our Bullpen Circle Of Trust:
Tier 1: Would Let Him Crash At My Place While I’m Out Of Town
2022 (as reliever): 27.1 IP, 12 H, 4 BB, 4 ER, 29 K, 2 HR
Last Month: 15.2 IP, 8 H, 2 BB, 3 ER, 15 K, 1 HR
Not only would I let Garrett Whitlock stay at my place while I was on vacation, I would actually give him free-reign to redecorate. I’m not just talking about accent pieces here, either. Like, he could repaint if he wanted to, knock down some walls to get better light in the kitchen, completely swap the dining room with the den if he thought it made for better feng shui. In this house, Garrett Whitlock is allowed to do whatever he wants.
Tier 2: Would Let Him Take My Children To Legoland
2022: 47.2 IP, 31 H, 10 BB, 10 ER, 56 K, 2 HR
Last Month: 15 IP, 15 H, 4 BB, 6 ER, 17 K, 1 HR
Schreiber’s done enough this year to earn anyone’s trust. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little concerned about this trend:
Tier 3: Can Borrow My Car To Pick Up Something From Home Depot
2022: 27.2 IP, 27 H, 7 BB, 11 ER, 32 K, 2 HR
Last Month: N/A
As solid as Matt Strahm’s been this year, he’s actually been a little unlucky, with an expected ERA that’s nearly a full run under his actual ERA of 3.58. If he comes back healthy and sees some positive regression, then we’re looking at a strong back-end of the bullpen down the stretch.
Tier 4: Would Trust Him To Water My (Outdoor) Plants
2022: 45.1 IP, 36 H, 22 BB, 16 ER, 28 K, 3 HR
Last Month: 11 IP, 11 H, 8 BB, 6 ER, 11 K, 1 HR
2022: 45 IP, 50 H, 9 BB, 26 ER, 44 K, 5 HR
Last Month: 10.2 IP, 14 H, 3 BB, 9 ER, 9 K, 0 HR
2022: 31.1 IP, 26 H, 8 BB, 14 ER, 25 K, 5 HR
Last Month: N/A
I know, I know: literally nothing about Brasier’s stat line looks good, either for the year-to-date or for the last month. But believe it or not, almost all the damage against Brasier over the past month came in July. He’s always limited the walks, but through August thus far he’s doing a better job missing bats and staying away from the big hit. Hose is around the back, Ryan, try not to drown the pots.
As for Sawamura, it’s a small sample size, but he’s been outstanding in August, with 8 strikeouts in 4.1 innings pitched, and has shut the opposition down in 34 of his 44 appearances on the year.
Tier 5: If He Comes To Visit, He Doesn’t Make It Past The Porch
2022: 46.1 IP, 46 H, 24 BB, 27 ER, 54 K, 5 HR
Last Month: 9.2 IP, 15 H, 6 BB, 13 ER, 14 K, 3 HR
2022: 34 IP, 48 H, 15 BB, 23 ER, 33 K, 6 HR
Last Month: N/A
I have no idea why Familia jumped ahead of several Woo Sox who’ve been solid enough to be given a chance (German, in particular, though I always rode for dearly departed Phillips Valdez).
I Honestly Have No Idea
2022: 22.1 IP, 20 H, 14 BB, 16 ER, 20 K, 2 HR
Last Month: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 1 ER, 6 K, 0 HR
It’s been a wild ride with Matt Barnes. But after last night’s outing against the Pirates, he’s basically Bubbles at the end of The Wire, finally being let out of the basement and being given a chance to rejoin the family. Come on up for dinner, Matty Barnes, you’ve just earned a second chance at life.