To be kind, the Red Sox bullpen has been a bit of an enigma this year. Are they more like their ERA in April (6.10) or May (2.08)? Are they the guys who gave up 11 home runs in 62 April innings, or the ones who have given up six in 82.1 May innings?
While it’s unlikely the Sox relief corps will be as bad as it was in April or as good as it has been in May, this rag-tag group is finally starting to settle in for the long haul. After all the shuffling manager Bobby Valentine was forced to do at the beginning of the season, he appears to have started to find roles for each of his pitchers.
Because the natural order has begun to play itself out, we can finally take a (somewhat) educated look at how each reliever has performed and start to formulate opinions on who the key members of the bullpen are.
With the roles more defined, some relievers have begun to excel despite the fact that their numbers do not indicate such success. Likewise, some relievers’ numbers belie the real way in which they’ve performed in key situations.
Although it’s still early in the season, for the Sox to climb back into the division race they’ll need their bullpen to continue performing at the high level they’ve currently reached. The starters have been erratic all season, and in averaging just over 5.2 innings per start they have already put a lot of strain on their fellow pitchers’ arms.
Some of the Sox’s relievers have risen to this challenge and provided much-needed stability, while others have completely faltered. Let’s rank the performances of the each Sox reliever thus far this season: