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Who’s Going to the Bullpen?

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Who’s Going to the Bullpen In October For The Boston Red Sox?

You’re fooling yourself if you don’t think that the Red Sox will be sending a left-handed starter to the bullpen, come October. Boston’s going to need at least 1 more late-inning southpaw to navigate around playoff caliber line-ups. The only question is: Who will it be?

Recently John Farrell alluded to this bullpen deficiency when commenting on the injury-status of exorbitantly paid lefty David Price. As you may have heard, Price has been making strides towards a regular season return on the mound. He threw a simulated game against Sox hitters last Wednesday. Purportedly he had all his stuff working nicely.

If David Price is to make such an expeditious return (what a fighter), it would come right on the threshold of the playoffs. John Farrell has been asked whether Price could be pitching out of the bullpen in October. His response: “At this point, you can’t rule that out.”

You have to see where Farrell is coming from here. The Sox have just 2 lefty pseudo-specialists in the pen. I tenuously concede that title, to these 2 guys, simply because they’re left-handed pitchers. We’re talking about Robby Scott and Fernando Abad here. That’s it. Those names don’t exactly inspire confidence, do they?

What Is

That’s right, at this juncture, the Red Sox are relying on 2 left-handed pitchers to come out of the bullpen in high leverage situations. The problem lies with the fact that both Scott and Abad are not utilized, nor do they present any real threat, against left-handed hitters.

Fernando Abad has had a good, if not a super-solid year for the Sox as a 7th inning arm. In 42 games, he has a 2.68 ERA. Awesome, for a guy who is just the epitome of mediocrity. What should somewhat concern fans is his ERA against left-handed hitters. It’s actually a tick higher than the mean. Against batters from the same side, Abad has a 2.81 ERA. He has 8 innings fewer, recorded against lefties than he does against righties in 2017. This betrays his role out of the pen. Abad is a general 7th inning guy. He is not the invariable shutdown southpaw that the Red Sox need to face left-handed hitters in critical October situations.

Robby Scott is a middling and shriveling hose on the mound (look at this goofball’s arm slot). Good ol’ “Bob O” is slinging with a 4.05 ERA out of the bullpen. You could call Scott Boston’s lefty-specialist, but he has an inherent weakness. This is something that will definitely rear its repugnant head in the playoffs: His ERA is 7.20 on the road. Ouch! So theoretically, Robby Scott’s only dependable for about half a postseason series.

Thus something’s gotta change.

What Could Be

As our buddy John Farrell suggested, David Price could find himself, in some capacity, pitching out of the bullpen when he returns. Now don’t forget that Farrell has a multitude of options on the table when it comes to the delegation of this staff. Expect to see a roulette-wheel of arms, or a “next man up” sort of rotation in October. It should be fun to watch.

There are 3 guys, Price being one, who are eligible to lead the staff as the “lefty” in the pen.

This youngster has the most untarnished promise: Eduardo Rodriguez. That’s right, E-Rod has already demonstrated his ability and willingness to relieve. Well, kinda. He has pitched 1 inning in relief, in his entire career. In this inning, Rodriguez struck out 2 while giving up not a single hit nor a run. What makes him an enticing option, is that he is still young. This implies that there’s some pliability left in that athlete-psychology of his. If Sox management sells it to the kid tactfully, this move to the pen could have some permanence to it. As a starter, he has a 4.28 career ERA. It’s never too late to find your calling E-Rod!

Drew Pomeranz is another left-handed starter to seriously consider as a bullpen arm, in the postseason. This guy was a full-time reliever in 2015, with the Oakland A’s. That year, he had a 2.61 ERA in 44 games. What amplifies his allure as a potential reliever: His ERA was 2.12 against lefties. Some may be deterred by his underwhelming performance in the 2016 postseason. Last year, in the Cleveland series, Pomeranz pitched 3.2 innings of relief and gave up 2 ER’s. Conversely, he had 7 K’s. These bad numbers were probably a symptom of the nervousness that Pomeranz was experiencing. He was pitching in his first couple and the only, postseason games of his career. Pomeranz is certainly worth another shot.

Lastly, we come to David Price. He is the volatile and toxic pitcher that the Red Sox have handcuffed themselves to for seasons to come. Dave Dombrowski is still desperately trying to produce a bang for his buck with this guy.

General soreness has plagued Price up and down, to his fingertips, since this past Spring. With about 3 weeks left in the regular season, and with Price situated to return after a few more rehab sessions, a decision has to be made. What do you do with this expensive lefty in October?

You can hear it screaming from the tonality of all of David Price’s press conferences: He wants to be loved. But there is also boisterous, yet half-repressed, ego here. Asking a Cy Young winning starter to go to the bullpen is a delicate task. You could kindle an inextinguishable conniption fit, the likes of which we’ve never seen. But if Farrell can spin-doctor the proposal in such a way as to make Price feel like the hero, we might have ourselves a weapon to capitalize on.

Back in 2008, coming out of the bullpen for Tampa, David Price had a 1.58 ERA in 5.2 innings pitched. And this was in the postseason! He was just a wee-little rookie back then. Since these successful relief appearances, which he made nearly a decade ago, Price has established a horrendous track-record in October.

The Hand You’re Dealt

Again, with David Price, the best approach would be to stroke the ace’s ego, when explaining this prospective move to the pen. Pitch it to him like he’d be putting Boston on his back. If the Sox can strategically delay Price’s return, John Farrell could even construe it as a short “rehabilitation period”. You know, just to get things in motion; to shake off the rust David. If I was Price, I would be grateful for any opportunity to restart with a clean slate in October.

As the Red Sox rotation is constituted, practically 70% of their starters are left-handed. Surely a bullpen assignment is on the horizon, for one of these southpaws. With a surplus of starters, the Sox can afford to spin the carousel of this rotation. It’s foreseeable that a right-hander and a left-hander could end up splitting a postseason game almost evenly. Stigmatic honor aside, what matters is the win, not who’s the pitcher on record.

John Farrell is certainly worthy of some sympathy: His bullpen resolution will be a difficult one to reach. Boston has a bunch of cantankerous and talented starter’s here, and all of them want to shine. David Price is the lefty who would be the most suited for a stint in the bullpen. Such a reintroduction would coddle him back into his preferred role as a starter. Farrell admittedly is toying with this exact notion. Let’s just hope that Price is flexible enough to do what’s asked of him.

Columnist operating out of Manchester, NH. Retired pitcher (unprofessional not amateur). Voracious consumer of all things Celtics and Red Sox. Sometimes I produce content as well.

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Red Sox And The Walk Off, Why 2017 Is Different

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The Boston Red Sox defeated the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night to the tune of 10-8. The win was a staple of what the 2017 Red Sox have become. A team that never gives up.

Despite a poor start by Doug Fister and being down countless times throughout the game the offense and the team battled back to force the Orioles into another extra-innings affair.

Monday’s game was the 17th time this season Boston has played into extras with the pitching staff tossing 55.2 innings of “free baseball” to go along with it. To put that into perspective through Monday the Red Sox have played 150 games this season. That means roughly 9% of the time their ballgames have gone into extras. And when they go into extras it usually takes awhile with the average game going over by 3.2 innings.

But Boston has been good in these situations. Their pitching staff ranks 1st in ERA, 1st in WHIP, 1st in BAA, 1st in OPBA, 1st in SLGA, and 1st in OPSA (Courtesy of BostonSportsInf on Twitter).

As a team, they are 14-3 in extra-inning games. Their play in these situations has been remarkable with Monday’s win coming off the bat of rookie sensation Andrew Benintendi.

Boston has had their fair share of trouble and uncertainties this season. But their never giving up attitude is a trait that should serve them well heading into October. It isn’t just in extra innings that this pops up though. In 1 run ballgames, this season the Red Sox have a 19-17 record. The only winning record in the AL East besides the Orioles who are in fourth place at the moment. While that number isn’t “elite” it is a different spin for the Red Sox.

In their 2016 division winning campaign, they were dreadful in 1 run games going 20-24. The worst 1 run game record of any playoff team and the second lowest in the division to the last place Rays. Seeing this year’s Red Sox win games late and win them close is a positive sign.

They might not be the high-powered offense of 2016, but in 2017 they have more balls.

Heading into Tuesday’s game with the Baltimore Orioles the Red Sox are 3 games up on the New York Yankees for first place in the AL East. With 12 games to go, it is still a dogfight to the end with no more games against New York who holds the head to head lead if there is a tie. But with Boston’s clutch factor through the roof, confidence levels should be high.

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Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox Starter David Price Successful In Relief

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Boston Red Sox

On Sunday, Boston Red Sox Pitcher David Price tossed his first outing in relief. Price who signed for the largest contract in Red Sox history last offseason has been rehabbing from an elbow injury. An elbow injury that has been nagging left-hander since spring training.

In his first appearance out of the bullpen, he tossed two perfect innings. Price was able to hit 96 mph on the radar gun and successfully mixed in his pitches recording a few swing and misses. For Boston, this far exceeded their expectations after 7 weeks off.

“That was even more than personally anticipated,” Farrell told reporters. “From the power to the touch and feel, I’m amazed that someone can pitch — haven’t pitched in a game in seven weeks and come out with that kind of command and throw three, four pitches for strikes. He’s a unique pitcher, and that was really a strong two innings of work today.

Farrell postgame also mentioned that the earliest Price will be used again is the finale of their series with Baltimore that starts on Monday.

Price’s success against the Tampa Bay Rays out of the pen will be very different than an outing against a playoff-bound team. Seeing him locate pitches and throw with some velocity is a positive sign. But he has had his fair share of simulated innings to build up to that point.

Price being used out of the bullpen can add much-needed depth for John Farrell. But Price as a starter is more valuable to the ballclub. But at this point, it looks like the plan will be strictly out of the bullpen for Price. Maybe not the right call, but for the pitcher that will eventually need elbow surgery it is the safer bet.

If you are a Red Sox fan that wants nothing to do with Price and would like him gone. Then you should be rooting for his success to end out this season and throughout next season. If he can pitch well till the end of next season chances are he opts out of his contract. But if he doesn’t, if the elbow acts up again which is likely, then Price will likely be in Boston for the remainder of his contract.

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Boston Red Sox

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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David Price

It has been a nonplussing and extremely long week, for Boston sports fans. During this part of September, we all start to experience the perennial football jitters. Over the summer we’ve become accustomed to watching the Sox play practically every single day. So when the Patriots start up again, the 7+ days wait between games can feel torturous. Especially after a depressing loss, like the one that we saw last Thursday night.

But rejoice New England! It’s Friday. Week 2 in the NFL is officially underway. The Pats can start their redemption campaign with a win against the Saints on Sunday. It’s time for another highly anticipated edition of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Let’s kick it off!

The Good

A player very dear to Boston has returned from a lengthy stint on the “10-day DL”. Somehow what was supposed to be a quick rest, for general soreness, has been protracted into what feels like months. That’s right folks, David Price, the pride of the Red Sox, is back. But he’s not going to be pitching, in his normal capacity, as a starter. Nope, this time around our Cy Young winning southpaw will head to the bullpen.

Putting Price in the pen was being talked about, as we approached the threshold of his return. It was cemented just a couple of days ago, when manager John Farrell announced that David Price would be coming back to the Red Sox in a “multi-inning role” as a reliever.

Following the announcement, Price publically embraced his new responsibilities. In a recent press conference, he essentially said that he is willing to help this team in any way possible.

Price has pitched out of the bullpen before, even in the playoffs, and he has had success doing so. In the 2008 postseason, Price had a 1.58 ERA in 5.2 innings. Given his apparent compliance and willingness to serve, this seems like a win-win move.

Since the day that the Red Sox acquired him, David Price has had a tough go of it, both politically and statistically. Although he is one of the more loquacious pitchers in the game, and also a thinker, Price hasn’t exactly ingratiated himself to the Boston fan-base. So, of course, Sox fans are a little jaded to the pandering we hear in press conferences.

Hopefully Price can let go of the October troubles of his past, and start a new. For $30 million a year, I’m positive that the Sox would be more than happy with the lefty mutating into the next Andrew Miller. As we’ve been saying for the past couple years: It’s time to put up or shut, for David Price.

The Bad

At some point or another, almost all have us have been “the new kid in school”. An uncomfortable situation like that will certainly stimulate the fight or flight instincts in an individual. It can get ugly. Just ask, New Orleans Saints running back, Adrian Peterson.

This past Monday was the season premiere of Monday Night Football on ESPN. The first game, of the special double-header, featured the Minnesota Vikings versus the New Orleans Saints. Adrian Peterson was returning to the twin cities, for the first time in his new black and gold uniform. Not only was his performance underwhelming on the field, but he was visibly disgruntled and downtrodden on the sidelines. This was not the AP that America is used to seeing.

Now, I lived in Minnesota for quite some time; I watched Peterson play for years. I was in attendance for the game against the Chargers, when he broke the single-game rushing record. This dude’s an indefatigable worker and an absolute beast.

Peterson’s behavior during Monday night’s game was uncharacteristic, to say the least. The circumstances of his Saints debut, against the Vikings, represented the perfect storm for this veteran RB.

Think about it: He’s returning to the NFL, after a year that was saturated with domestic abuse controversy. Not to rekindle the past, but many people don’t even believe that he should be allowed to play football. Peterson is also on a new team, working with a new coach and a new playbook. Oh yeah, and his Vikings replacement, Dalvin Cook, set a rookie record for rushing yards, in that MNF game.

Adrian Peterson was involved in just 9 snaps, on Monday night. He had 6 carries, while only racking up 18 yards. This is a guy who has had a 2,000-yard season, and he has over 11,000 career rushing yards. Quite the dichotomy between his past and his present; hence the veteran’s frustration.

A video of Peterson dogging Saints head coach Sean Payton, on the sidelines, has gone viral. Payton is seen walking away, with his back turned, as his new RB chews him out roundly. Watching the game, you would presume that Peterson was complaining of a lack of involvement in the offense.

Since the incident, Adrian Peterson has come out and addressed the media. He clarified that he is fine with coach Payton. But he also mentioned that he “didn’t sign up for 9 snaps”. Let’s hope his troubles continue, just for week 2, as the Patriots are facing the Saints this Sunday.

Only time will tell, but if I was a betting man I would say that Peterson will eventuality prosper in New Orleans. This is a guy who has won the comeback player of the year award, after recovering from a torn ACL. For now it’s sad to watch a veteran, who was once regarded as one of the greatest ever, spiral out of control like this. It’s bad for fans and it’s bad for the sport.

The Ugly

Give Sergio Dipp another chance! We all know it was cringeworthy, inappropriately bombastic and downright awkward. But come on ESPN, cut the newbie some slack!

If you managed to stay awake Monday night, after the scintillating Vikings-Saints game, you saw a piece of pop culture history. Holy cow! Stretched thin, ESPN threw together a motley crew of neophytes for the broadcast of the second MNF game. One of these rookies was bright-eyed sideline reporter Sergio Dipp.

This dude was coming over from the ESPN Deportes section of the sports media company. On Monday, Dipp made his first report from the sidelines of a nationally telecasted NFL game. He seized the opportunity. Go and watch the video, because his performance was unspeakably bad.

Dipp’s commentary focused mainly on the new head coach of the Denver Broncos, Vance Joseph. It’s clear that Sergio Dipp felt a deep psychological connection with this kindred spirit, who was also making an important debut. “Here he is, having the time of his life.” Dipp exclaimed as the camera panned over to, a cool and calm, Vance Joseph inspecting his playbook. In actuality, it was Sergio Dipp, not Joseph, who was having the time of his life.

That was Dipp’s first, and only appearance as a sideline reporter. He bombed. The video propagated Twitter like meme wildfire. Sergio tried to salvage some honor by releasing an apology video. It was even more cringeworthy.

I implore you to stop Mr. Dipp. Embrace your quirks and pretend like nothing happened. Sometimes the more you speak, after an embarrassing moment, the worse you make it. Any publicity is good publicity. Get back to the sidelines and report like you’re having the time of your life. I don’t think you could even pretend to do anything else.

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