Red Sox bullpen is officially becoming a concern

Rob Bradford
April 23, 2019 - 4:05 pm

Chris Sale wasn't the story in his team's 7-4 loss to the Tigers Tuesday afternoon. That was unfortunate for the Red Sox. (For a complete recap, click here.)

While the Red Sox ace still didn't display his dominant self throughout a five-inning, two-run outing, he was good enough to suggest some optimism. There were the 10 strikeouts and a fastball that was somewhere in between good and uncomfortable (averaging 92 mph, maxing out at 94 mph).

No, Game 1 of the doubleheader between the Red Sox and Tigers was won and lost at the feet of the hosts' bullpen. This time it was Heath Hembree and Colten Brewer who paved the way for what is becoming a growing concern regarding a good chunk of these relievers.

"We need to get better," said Cora, whose team dropped to 9-14. "We recognize a few guys that they’re going to pitch in high-leverage situations. Today’s different with the doubleheader. We’ve got some guys throwing the ball well, there are others that need to make adjustments and get better."

Hembree's job was to keep things close after Sale's departure. It didn't work out. The righty reliever continued his struggles, having now allowed eight runs over his 11 1/3 innings after giving up a run on two hits with a walk in just 2/3 innings.

Then after the Red Sox crawled back into a tie with Xander Bogaerts' sixth-inning solo homer, (the first of two on the day for the shortstop) Brewer was called upon to get some high-leverage outs in the eighth inning. That didn't work out either. 

The righty put runners on second and third with one out before allowing a two-run double to Josh Harrison. Harrison was, by the way, hitting just .130 at the time of the extra-base hit. A Grayson Grenier RBI single tacked on another run to boost Brewer's ERA to 8.31 and batting average against to .316.

Bobby Poyner punctuated the relief-pitching situation by allowing another run on a pair of hits in the ninth.

Since April 13 the Red Sox relievers carry an ERA of 7.20.

As Sale pointed out after the loss, the amount of innings the bullpen continues to be needed for doesn't help matters either.

"We’ve been leaning on those guys down there a lot, myself mostly," Sale said. "It would just be nice to go out there and fill up seven or eight innings or finish a game for these guys and give them a day off or give a few of them a day off. It seems like every time I’m out there, I’m just leaning on these guys and that’s just a tough spot to put them in."