Monday, September 24, 2018

In Era Of More Rested Starters, Boston's Shaky Bullpen Even More Vulnerable

As Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci points out, 2018 saw the lowest percentage of MLB starts on "regular rest" (four days or less)—41.3%. Just ten years ago, that number was 53.3%. Perhaps not surprisingly then, only two Red Sox pitchers threw the qualifying number of innings this year (162)—David Price and Rick Porcello. So, in the bigger picture, teams are increasingly giving starters more rest between starts. And, perilously for the 2018 Red Sox, that puts greater emphasis on a dominant bullpen (which clearly we don't have). As Verducci rightly states, teams need relievers that "can keep the ball out of play with swing-and-miss power arms". Other than Craig Kimbrel, who else on this team fits that bill? In his analysis, Verducci cites two things that are absolutely essential to Boston winning in October: "1. Sale has to pitch deep into his starts. 2. The bullpen needs multiple reliable options and to quit walking so many batters." Indeed!