The Red Sox haven’t put everything together consistently 11 games into the 2022 season. Boston’s starting pitching has been good enough. The offense has had a couple of big innings but has struggled overall. Relief pitching and defense have been there from day one. The Red Sox bullpen will be a strength when they do figure things out. 

The Bad

Kutter Crawford's 2022 season off to a rough start. Pictured: Kutter Crawford pitching in Red Sox white home jerseys with red lettering

Boston relief pitching has looked worse than it’s really been over the last few games due to the five runs given up in the series finale in Detroit, the four runs allowed to the Minnesota Twins in the Red Sox home opener, and the four runs the bullpen allowed in the Minnesota series finale. In two of those losses, Kutter Crawford allowed three runs and four runs, respectively. Austin DavisMatt Barnes (still a work in progress), and Hirokazu Sawamura just had bad games in those losses. Those three games made the Red Sox’ bullpen ERA skyrocket to 4.22 over the last seven games. Their ERA was 1.27 over the first five games

Only Crawford and Ryan Brasier have genuinely been terrible. Brasier has pitched with inherited runners in four of his five appearances and allowed at least one run in each of them. As I’ve mentioned, Crawford allowed three runs in the 9-7 loss to the Tigers, though Jake Diekman was the pitcher responsible for allowing them to score, and four runs in the 8-3 loss to Minnesota, with all four runs his responsibility in that one. 

The Good

Newcomer Matt Strahm the best of the bunch so far in Red Sox bullpen in 2022. Pictured: Matt Strahm pitching for San Diego Padres in tan-ish jersey with brown lettering with yellow/gold outline.

Now for some positivity. Matt Strahm, Diekman, Garrett WhitlockHansel Robles, and Phillips Valdez have been phenomenal over Boston’s first 11 games.

Strahm has allowed one run in six innings, and Diekman has been charged with one run in 3.1 innings over five appearances despite a couple of minor hiccups. Whitlock has allowed one run in 9.2 innings over four appearances. Robles has not allowed a run in his five innings, and Valdez has not allowed a run in seven innings of work. 

Three runs have been charged to Davis; however, one of those runs came on the Baez two-run home run, the other two on a two-run home run he allowed to Spencer Torkelson. Three of Davis’ five appearances have been scoreless. Two of Barnes’ four appearances have been scoreless, and three of Sawamura’s four appearances have been scoreless. 

The Red Sox have seven quality relievers and Austin Davis in their bullpen. If Barnes can find himself again, they’ll have five late-innings/high leverage relievers, and that’s a good foundation. 

The Red Sox bullpen entering Thursday afternoon’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays had a 3.04 ERA with a 2.83 FIP, primarily because of Strahm, Diekman, Whitlock, Robles, and Valdez. 

Red Sox Bullpen Is Good Right Now and Should Only Improve

Josh Taylor's return to Red Sox represents an upgrade to the bullpen. Pictured: Josh Taylor pitching in Red Sox home white jerseys with red lettering.

Red Sox relievers are getting overworked early, having pitched the eighth-most innings in MLB this season (53.1). Matt Strahm leads the bullpen with six appearances. Phillips Valdez, Jake Diekman, Davis, and Ryan Brasier have five appearances. Hirokazu Sawamura, Matt Barnes, and Hansel Robles have four appearances each; Garrett Whitlock leads Red Sox relievers with 9.2 innings pitched. That should become less of a problem as Chris Sale and Josh Taylor come back from injury and rosters reduce to 26 in May. 

When Sale returns in early June, one of Tanner HouckMichael Wacha, and Rich Hill will be moved to the bullpen, giving the Red Sox another long-relief option. Taylor’s return will give Boston’s bullpen another fresh arm and an instant upgrade; Someone will have to get sent down to make room for him (looking at you, Kutter Crawford). And in May, two relievers will have to go. Austin Davis is the most likely because it’s doubtful Boston carries four left-handed relievers. The second pitcher is likely Phillips Valdez because he has options remaining. But Valdez deserves to be a full-time member of the Red Sox bullpen.

A trade or two for pitching is always a factor, too.  

The 2022 Red Sox bullpen has a solid foundation right now and should only improve as the season wears on. 

For daily Red Sox coverage, follow me on Twitter. For more MLB coverage, in addition to Red Sox coverage, make sure to follow @BellyUpBaseball and check out Belly Up Sport’s other MLB content.

About Author

Cody Bondeson

I've been a Red Sox fan for as long as I can remember, having lived in New England for nearly half of my life. But it wasn't until I was about 12 or 13 years old that I became obsessed with the Red Sox. Though I live and breathe Red Sox 24/7, I am a more reasoned fan (thus a more reasoned writer) than the stereotypical Red Sox fan and not prone to getting caught up in the ups and downs that come with a 162 game MLB season --- Even a great player fails more than he succeeds, after all.

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