The Boston Red Sox bullpen has desperately needed reinforcements all season long. Red Sox relievers have lost the team way too many games. Boston’s starting pitching has done enough that Alex Cora has avoided overexposing it too much. Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom left Boston unprepared. That’s a fact. All that is left for the Red Sox is to be active at the trade deadline and fix the team’s weakest link. This team is too good to stay with the status quo. In part one, I analyzed the three best realistic closer upgrades. In part two, I will focus on analyzing upgrades at the setup spot (and one closer.
Red Sox Trade Deadline Target Number Four: Anthony Bass
Anthony Bass of the Miami Marlins has pitched in 35.2 innings this season with a 1.51 ERA/2.64 xERA (93rd percentile)/2.09 FIP/274 ERA+, 25 percent strikeout rate (67th percentile) and five percent walk rate (88th percentile). Opposing hitters are batting .206/.245/.298/.542 against him. They are chasing 35 percent of the time (96th percentile) and whiffing 28 percent of the time (70th percentile), with an average exit velocity of 86 mph (95th percentile).
Bass is phenomenal at limiting hard contact. He has allowed a hard-hit rate of 31 percent (84th percentile) and a five percent barrel rate. He has a 1.29 ERA in 35 innings in the seventh and eighth innings.
The Michigan native relies on a slider, sinker, and fastball pitch mix and mixes in a splitter now and then. Opposing hitters have a .200 xBA/.301 xSLG/219 xwOBA line against the slider. Hitters are whiffing 38 percent of the time (39th among all sliders), striking out 34 percent of the time, with a 26 percent hard-hit rate (28th) against the pitch. The sinker, obviously a groundball pitch, has a .254 xBA/.374 xSLG/.324 xwOBA against it with a 13 percent whiff rate, 15 percent strikeout rate, and 32 percent hard-hit rate (30th among all sinkers). His fastball is his worst pitch. Batters have a .268 xBA/.587 xSLG/.370 xwOBA against it with a 12 percent strikeout rate.
In conclusion, Anthony Bass is a guaranteed rental but has a club option for 2023. Chaim Bloom likes players on contracts like this. Bass is a shutdown setup man and should be the Red Sox’ number one setup target at the trade deadline.&amp;nbsp;
Trade Deadline Target Number Five: Jorge Lopez
Jorge Lopez, the Baltimore Orioles’ current closer and former starter, is having a great season. Over 41.1 innings this season, Lopez has a 1.74 ERA/3.07 xERA (78th percentile)/3.08 FIP/230 ERA+ with a 28 percent strikeout rate (81st percentile) and nine percent walk rate (36th percentile). He has a 58 percent groundball rate, and hitters are batting .169/.256/.270/.526 against him with an 87 mph exit velocity (79th percentile) and 31 percent hard-hit rate (92nd percentile). Thirty-three of the Puerto Rico native’s 38 appearances has come in the ninth inning, converting 16 of 20 save opportunities.
The left-hander relies on a sinker, curveball, changeup, slider pitch mix and throws in a fastball every so often. The sinker generates a 20 percent whiff rate (15th among all sinkers), 24 percent strikeout rate (12th), and a 31 percent hard-hit rate (ninth). Hitters have a .212 xBA/.381 xSLG/.301 xwOBA against the pitch. The curveball has a .154 xBA/.194 xSLG/.191 xwOBA line against it, with a 23 percent hard-hit rate, 32 percent strikeout rate, and 28 percent whiff rate. Hitters have a .206 xBA/.242 xSLG/.239 xwOBA against the changeup, with a 30 percent whiff rate, 21 percent strikeout rate, and 23 percent hard-hit rate (33rd among all changeups). And the slider generates high whiff rates (44 percent) and strikeout rates (55 percent) but has a 37 percent hard-hit rate. It has a .249 xBA/.455 xSLG/.316 xwOBA line against it.
Lastly, Jorge Lopez is under team control through 2025. Lopez is another prototypical, prime Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox to target to pursue at the trade deadline.
Trade Deadline Target Number Six: Mychal Givens
In 34.1 innings with the Chicago Cubs in 2022, Mychal Givens has a 3.15 ERA/3.44 xERA (66th percentile)/4.15 FIP/137 ERA+, with a 29 percent strikeout rate (85th percentile) and 11 percent walk rate (13th percentile). Like everyone on this list, Givens does an excellent job limiting quality contact. Opposing batters have an 88 mph exit velocity (68th percentile) and a 34 percent hard-hit rate (77th percentile against him and are hitting .219/.318/.352/.669. Twenty-nine of his 34.1 innings have come in the seventh and eighth innings. Furthermore, he is stranding 87 percent of runners that reach base against him.
The Tampa, Florida, native relies on a fastball, slider, and changeup pitch mix. The fastball has a .230 xBA/.396 xSLG/.320 xwOBA against it, with a 38 percent strikeout rate (seventh among all fastballs), 26 percent whiff rate (42nd), and 45 percent hard-hit rate. Opposing hitters have a .196 xBA/.374 xSLG/.272 xwOBA against the slider and are not hitting it well (24 percent hard-hit rate, 17th among all sliders). Batters are whiffing 30 percent and striking out 21 percent of the time on the pitch. The changeup is his worst pitch. It generates a .214 xBA/.542 xSLG/.366 xwOBA against it, with a 22 percent whiff and strikeout rate and a 36 percent hard-hit rate.
Mychal Givens would be a rental piece if the Red Sox were to acquire him at the trade deadline. Though he’s not the best setup man available, Givens is a more-than-solid option with experience pitching in the A.L. East, with five-plus seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, if Boston misses out on better relievers.
Red Sox Trade Deadline Target Number Seven: Joe Jimenez
Current Detroit Tiger Joe Jimenez has had an up and down career, but he’s having a career year in 2022. Over 32.1 innings, Jimenez has a 3.06 ERA/2.70 xERA (88th percentile)/2.36 FIP/127 ERA+, with a 33 percent strikeout rate (93rd percentile) and 5 percent walk rate (83rd percentile). He also has the lowest home run rate he’s had since 2018 (2.3 percent). Opposing batters are hitting .200/.242/.325/.567 against him with an 88 mph exit velocity (56th percentile) and a 34 percent hard-hit rate (77th percentile). Hitters are chasing 32 percent of the time (83rd percentile) and whiffing 30 percent of the time (80th percentile) against him.
One potential factor in his career-best season? Jimenez is throwing strikes at a career-high rate (54 percent).
The San Juan, Puerto Rico, native relies on a fastball and slider pitch mix, throwing in a changeup rarely. The fastball isn’t terrible; however, it is his worst pitch. The fastball has a .247 xBA/.468 xSLG/.331 xwOBA and 40 percent hard-hit rate (43rd among all fastballs), but a 26 percent whiff rate (41st) and 32 percent strikeout rate (24th). The slider generates whiffs 41 percent of the time (48th among all sliders), strikeouts 39 percent of the time (42nd), and a 27 percent hard-hit rate (52nd). Hitters have a .185 xBA/.257 xSLG/.188 xwOBA line against the pitch.
Under team control through 2024, Joe Jimenez hasn’t been a high-leverage reliever, but he could help fortify Boston’s relief corps.