Early Saturday morning (or late Friday night depending on where you live) the Boston Red Sox acquired closer Brad Ziegler from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ziegler, who make no mistake is a very good addition, was not necessarily the name I expected the Sox to get back in June when I explained the team’s possible relief pitching trade targets. Nonetheless, Executive of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski’s focus will now shift to the starting pitching market.
It’s now been two months, and my opinion of Boston’s bullpen has not changed. At the start of the season, I felt that they were a shut-down lefty shy of being a real plus for the team, and with Carson Smith now done for the season, it has become even more evident that the team could use another dominating arm. Craig Kimbrel and Koji Ueahara have both under-performed to this point, and while I have confidence that Kimbrel will turn it around, Koji’s age and durability should definitely be a concern. Junichi Tazawa has faded down the stretch each of the last two seasons with heavy usage, and names like Robbie Ross Jr., Tommy Layne, Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, Noe Ramirez, and now Clay Buchholz do not instill the amount of confidence needed by a playoff contending team. Barnes and Hembree have both been very good, but it is still risky to rely on them in big roles, which was demonstrated by Hembree’s 8th inning implosion last Sunday.