The Red Sox bullpen may be some improved over last season but I still feel less than confident that they can do the job. Many of the same pitchers are back that blew leads late in the game often last season. You never know with some of them how they are going to do as inconsistent seems a good way to describe them, putting it mildly. We don’t really know what we are going to get from these boys is the bottom line.
The closer position seems good as Kimbrel was one of the best closers in the game last season. The problem will be getting to the ninth inning so he can do his job. Uehara may do fine as the eighth inning man but, as he is getting up in years, his stuff is not what it used to be. He had some trouble being consistent last season, but did pretty well overall. Perhaps he can get the job done for one more season. The managers need to limit his appearances some perhaps so that he has the stamina to last the entire season.
The same is true with Tazawa. He pitched very well for much of the season last year but was used so much that he tan out of gas and was ineffective late. If they will use him in a reasonable fashion instead of overusing him, he should help us win some close games.
Noe Ramirez will probably be a nice addition to the lineup. Based on what we have seen in Spring Training, he may do rather well if he can be consistent. His youth may cause some problems in close contests, but that remains to be seen.
Then we have Smith coming off the injured list pretty soon and he is supposed to be a quality reliever. Only time will tell. So, all in all, with those five staying healthy, we may have a pretty decent bullpen, after all.
The problem with the rest of the guys in the bullpen is consistency. We never know what to expect when they take the mound. Sometimes last season they pitched well and got the job done, but too often they gave up runs and blew leads that cost us ball games. If they can be more consistent this season, perhaps pitching with less frequency since we will have the other five, we should have a solid pen.
So, the best we can say is that the jury is still out on just how well management did in shoring up the pitching staff from last years poor performance. With the addition of some more quality pitchers, perhaps the others, who were only mediocre at best last season, will be inspired to pitch well also.
The two big questions for the whole staff are: IF they can stay healthy and IF we get better performances from some of the returning pitchers. If these two things happen it could be a great season. Those are two big ifs, so I look for the pitching and the team in general to do better than last season, but perhaps not good enough to win the division or go far if they do make the playoffs.
However, if everything goes our way and falls into place according to hopes (not necessarily reality), it could be a great season and they could go all the way. Much of it may depend on the performance of the bullpen.