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  1. #1

    The Pen

    So everyone and their mother has weighed in on this site about the sox need for fiscal frugality come 2019 so they can save money to keep the band together. I think everyone is looking at Barnes and Brasier and being somewhat happy (although probably not realistically so) about the end of the pen. But what isn't realized is the loss to the middle relief that must occur if the sox close games from within. Let's take a look at the sox' options for 2019 should they not sign an outside force.

    Closer: Matt Barnes- 2018 stats- 65IP 14K/9IP 4.5BB/9IP 0.73HR/9IP 3.65ERA 2.71FIP

    Matt Barnes was nasty last season. His K rate was a career high. His HR rate was a career low. Then why was his ERA and FIP so far off? Mostly because his BABIP was high. As a matter of fact, Barnes' BABIP is always high. His career BABIP is actually higher than the .321 he put up last year (by one point). For a guy who is so dominant to allow hits as often as he does when a ball is in play is strange. Couple that with his propensity for walks (1 every other inning) and you have a guy who underperforms based on FIP on an annual basis. You can definitely do worse than Barnes, but he puts a lot of guys on base and gives up a strange amount of hits when guys make contact. Not the best idea for closer on a championship team, but he's the best you got.

    8th inning/primary set-up man- Ryan Brasier- 2018 stats- 33.2IP 7.8K/9IP 1.9BB/9IP 0.53HR/9IP 1.60ERA 2.83FIP

    Brasier has the opposite effect of Barnes in terms of peripherals and outperforming FIP. Brasier outperformed his FIP was 1.2. He outperformed his xFIP by 2.18! Brasier has the velocity to be a back end guy for sure. But how often can he rely on a .198BABIP especially when guys put the ball in play as much as they do and his groundball rate is good but not great. Also, coming into 2018, he had been a 2.5-3.6 BB/9IP guy, which is good to ok. His BB rate of 1.87/9IP is absurd and likely not sustainable. You could do worse than Brasier in the setup role, but for a guy with his stuff, he cannot rely on keeping a sub .200BABIP forever.

    7th inning/secondary set-up man- Heath Hembree- 2018 stats- 60IP 11.4K/9IP 4.1BB/9IP 1.50HR/9IP 4.20ERA 4.19FIP

    Hembree is what he is. He has had consecutive 10+K/9IP seasons. He has also had consecutive 1.4+HR/9IP seasons and saw his walk rate really devolve in 2018. He lost almost 1mph from 2017 for some reason and now sits where he had the previous 2 seasons, in the 94 range. Not sure if that's the reason for his higher HR rate or walk rate, but so be it. Hembree is a JAG with a good K rate. His walk rate and propensity to give up homers is unsettling, especially when he projects to be your first reliever out of the pen if your starter goes 6 and departs with a lead

    6th inning/tertiary setup man Brandon Workman- 2018 stats- 41.1IP 8.1K/9IP 3.5BB/9IP 1.3HR/9IP 3.27ERA 4.42FIP

    Workman would slot into the last of the "set-up" men. He would probably be the first man up should a starter hand the lead over after 5 innings. He may also be the first man called upon if the starter hands over a small deficit. His ERA from 2018 was very strong, but he outperformed his peripherals by a lot and the HR predilection is alarming to say the least. He has had some serious health issues and saw his velocity drop back by a full mph this past season compared to 2017. He also faded heavily in September, registering a 6.48ERA, yet somehow won 4 games. Either way, he is not terrible, but with his HR rates, lower K rate and non-impeccable command, he is the kind of guy who can be a Firestarter in the pen

    Primary Long Reliever- Hector Velazquez- 2018 stats- 85IP 5.6K/9IP 2.75BB/9IP 0.74HR/9IP 3.18ERA 4.15FIP

    Velazquez is what he is. A guy who can give multiple innings without any flash or stuff. He throws strikes, but pitches to contact to the extreme. He outperformed his FIP by a lot as well, and probably cannot be expected to replicate his 2018 ERA numbers

    That's 5 relievers. The sox will carry 7. Brian Johnson will likely be amongst them, but he sucked in 2018. The final spot will likely be a competition amongst some low ceiling relievers in the high minors. The fact remains, pulling Barnes and Brasier up to replace Kelly and Kimbrel really exposes the sox underbelly. And while the guys in the middle aren't entirely awful, they all have big HR rates, higher than expected hit rates and non-impeccable walk rates, meaning that they're gonna blow some leads.
    The rebuild is complete.

  2. #2
    Deity moonslav59's Avatar
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    Nobody is claiming the Sox pen is great or even very good.

    While Barnes did have some career numbers in 2019, he was pretty good before that.

    You seem to expect Barnes will come back to his norm, does that mean Hembree will, too? Last year saw his worst ERA, BB/9 and HR/9 in 3 years.

    Brasier is largely an unknown, but his velocity does not lie, and you seem to value velocity very highly when talking about Yankee pitchers.

    Thornburg, Velazquez, Workman, Poyner, Johnson, Wright, Lakins and maybe others all offer long shot hope, but with so many of them,expecting 1 or 2 to do better than expected is not illogical.

    DD is not done with the pen. He will add someone better than Workman & Velazquez.

    Besides, the pen is not the be all end all, despite recent trends by teams to build the strongest pens possible. The pendulum may be swinging back as RP salaries sky-rocket.

    We have a solid rotation.
    We have a solid, if not the best, offense.
    We have a solid defense.
    We run the bases very well.

    Our pen is not great, at this moment, but it still is not near the worst, is probably above average and has upside potential.

    We don't need to the best at everything, and we seem to do very well vs the best closers in MLB. Brasier, Barnes and Hembree had an ERA of under 1.00 in the post season last year.

    22 IP
    2 ER
    10 H

    I know the sample size is small, but there is reason to be hopeful, especially after we add a piece or two.


  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by moonslav59 View Post
    Nobody is claiming the Sox pen is great or even very good.

    While Barnes did have some career numbers in 2019, he was pretty good before that.

    You seem to expect Barnes will come back to his norm, does that mean Hembree will, too? Last year saw his worst ERA, BB/9 and HR/9 in 3 years.

    Brasier is largely an unknown, but his velocity does not lie, and you seem to value velocity very highly when talking about Yankee pitchers.

    Thornburg, Velazquez, Workman, Poyner, Johnson, Wright, Lakins and maybe others all offer long shot hope, but with so many of them,expecting 1 or 2 to do better than expected is not illogical.

    DD is not done with the pen. He will add someone better than Workman & Velazquez.

    Besides, the pen is not the be all end all, despite recent trends by teams to build the strongest pens possible. The pendulum may be swinging back as RP salaries sky-rocket.

    We have a solid rotation.
    We have a solid, if not the best, offense.
    We have a solid defense.
    We run the bases very well.

    Our pen is not great, at this moment, but it still is not near the worst, is probably above average and has upside potential.

    We don't need to the best at everything, and we seem to do very well vs the best closers in MLB. Brasier, Barnes and Hembree had an ERA of under 1.00 in the post season last year.

    22 IP
    2 ER
    10 H

    I know the sample size is small, but there is reason to be hopeful, especially after we add a piece or two.

    I don't know about the trend toward strong bullpens changing any time soon. The only way for that to happen would be for the starters to start going deeper in games . Hard to see that happening.

  4. #4
    Deity moonslav59's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgalehouse View Post
    I don't know about the trend toward strong bullpens changing any time soon. The only way for that to happen would be for the starters to start going deeper in games . Hard to see that happening.
    It also helps to have 5 solid starters that rarely need bailing out early in games.

    ERod is the one starter who rates to tax the pen. Johnson, Wright and Velazquez could offer 2 inning stints often enough to lessen the strain on the 7th, 8th and 9th inning guys.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by moonslav59 View Post
    It also helps to have 5 solid starters that rarely need bailing out early in games.

    ERod is the one starter who rates to tax the pen. Johnson, Wright and Velazquez could offer 2 inning stints often enough to lessen the strain on the 7th, 8th and 9th inning guys.
    Eovaldi didn't average 5IP with Boston before the playoffs. He will tax your pen
    The rebuild is complete.

  6. #6
    Deity moonslav59's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jacksonianmarch View Post
    Eovaldi didn't average 5IP with Boston before the playoffs. He will tax your pen
    He pitched 6 or more innings in 7 of 10 starts with the Rays. When he joined the Sox, DD and Cora apparently planned on using Eovaldi as a RP'er i& SP'er n the playoffs. The yanked him early in a few games he wasn't doing badly in.

    He never let up more than 6 runs in any Sox start, and he only allowed 4-5 runs scored in 3 of his 11 starts. I think he will be fine giving us 6 IP more times than not, unless we choose to use him in relief again. That could happen, if Wright, Johnson of Velazquez prove they can do well as a starter.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by moonslav59 View Post
    Nobody is claiming the Sox pen is great or even very good.

    While Barnes did have some career numbers in 2019, he was pretty good before that.

    You seem to expect Barnes will come back to his norm, does that mean Hembree will, too? Last year saw his worst ERA, BB/9 and HR/9 in 3 years.


    Never said Barnes would come back to his norm. Just saying he walks a lot of guys, gets hit more than you'd expect with his K rate and stuff and has perpetually underperformed based on FIP.

    Brasier is largely an unknown, but his velocity does not lie, and you seem to value velocity very highly when talking about Yankee pitchers.
    I value velocity with performance and K ability. We have had some guys with serious heat who sucked. But the Yanks now have a top 4 in their pen who could headline most team's pens who all throw hard and have the ability to have high K rates and miniscule ERA's

    Thornburg, Velazquez, Workman, Poyner, Johnson, Wright, Lakins and maybe others all offer long shot hope, but with so many of them,expecting 1 or 2 to do better than expected is not illogical.
    Thornburg has never proven to be good when he doesn't have elite velocity. Since the surgery, he hasn't had elite surgery. Velazquez already had his career year. The likelihood that he outperforms his FIP by as much as he did again is low. Workman same, his stuff isn't great and he outperformed his FIP. Poyner is crap and you know it. Maybe he carves out a LOOGY niche, but he's not likely to be a great pitcher. Johnson was not very good and offers no upside. Wright had microfracture late in 2017 and another procedure in November. He and Pedroia are in the same recovery squad. Lakins is a lottery ticket. We have those too

    DD is not done with the pen. He will add someone better than Workman & Velazquez.
    There are two guys on the market right now guaranteed to be better than the middle relief fodder you have and they are Kimbrel and Ottavino. The others guys on the market are coming off horrendous seasons with alarming peripherals or loss of stuff. If Ottavino and Kimbrel go elsewhere, you're in trouble as most teams don't have easy to acquire, cheap closers available

    Besides, the pen is not the be all end all, despite recent trends by teams to build the strongest pens possible. The pendulum may be swinging back as RP salaries sky-rocket.
    ERA rankings of pens the last 5 years
    2018 Red Sox- 9th
    2017 Astros- 17th
    2016 Cubs- 6th
    2015 Royals- 5th
    2014 Giants- 5th

    2015 is really when the renaissance happened, but the 2014 Giants were not too shabby. The 17 Astros were able to put a pen together in the playoffs when they moved McCullers into the pen for the playoffs and he was lights out. They also had a rotation that was unbelievable. You also must remember that Sale is coming into the season off injury and lost power, which if it carries over, will be a deathknell of the sox.

    We have a solid rotation.
    We have a solid, if not the best, offense.
    We have a solid defense.
    We run the bases very well.
    And the leads you hand over may be blown with the current personnel.

    Our pen is not great, at this moment, but it still is not near the worst, is probably above average and has upside potential.
    It is not above average. Without Kimbrel and Kelly and then considering that only one player underperformed in 2018 based on FIP (Barnes), you are likely looking at regression from the pen that remains. That would be crushing for a club with the hopes to repeat

    We don't need to the best at everything, and we seem to do very well vs the best closers in MLB. Brasier, Barnes and Hembree had an ERA of under 1.00 in the post season last year.

    22 IP
    2 ER
    10 H

    I know the sample size is small, but there is reason to be hopeful, especially after we add a piece or two.
    If you add a piece or two. And yes, your guys came up big in the playoffs. But are you really going to let your pen guys go 162 games with the hopes that their short sample size in the playoffs carries over?
    The rebuild is complete.

  8. #8
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    Velasquez is likely to be AAA support as he has options left. Johnson and Thornburg round out the pen as it stands today...

  9. #9
    Deity moonslav59's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by notin View Post
    Velasquez is likely to be AAA support as he has options left. Johnson and Thornburg round out the pen as it stands today...
    As it looks now, yes, Velazquez will likely start in AAA due to option issues with others in our pen, but my guess is he gets more IP this year than last.

  10. #10
    Sky is falling. Sky is falling.

    My guess is Cora is communicating with DD on his needs and wants. I've not heard Cora complaining yet.
    Last edited by Nick; 01-07-2019 at 09:33 PM.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    Sky is falling. Sky is falling.

    My guess is Cora is communicating with DD on his needs and wants. I've not heard Cora complaining yet.
    He is 1 for 1 in titles for years coaching. He cannot complain at this point. The sky isn't falling, but DD is waiting out a market that has gotten hot and is moving fast. You will not repeat with the pen as is. You wont win the division with the pen as is
    The rebuild is complete.

  12. #12
    Deity moonslav59's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jacksonianmarch View Post
    He is 1 for 1 in titles for years coaching. He cannot complain at this point. The sky isn't falling, but DD is waiting out a market that has gotten hot and is moving fast. You will not repeat with the pen as is. You wont win the division with the pen as is
    You won't win the division with Tulo at SS, 2 thirty-five plus year old starters, a catcher who could care less about catching and Voit at 1B.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by moonslav59 View Post
    You won't win the division with Tulo at SS, 2 thirty-five plus year old starters and Voit at 1B.
    Didi isn't dead. CC is the #5 starter. If Voit is still at 1b by season's end, then he will be having a great year.
    The rebuild is complete.

  14. #14
    Deity moonslav59's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jacksonianmarch View Post
    Didi isn't dead. CC is the #5 starter. If Voit is still at 1b by season's end, then he will be having a great year.
    So, if Byrd ends up as the starting 1Bman, you'll be all set?

    Your pen is better than ours, and that's all you want to talk about-- like it means everything.

  15. #15
    Deity Kimmi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jacksonianmarch View Post
    Didi isn't dead. CC is the #5 starter. If Voit is still at 1b by season's end, then he will be having a great year.
    So, the Yankees can start the season with less than ideal players at SS and 1B, but the Sox starting the season (maybe) with a less than ideal closer is going to doom the team?

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