Bullpen Meltdown On The Horizon?

ATTN: Red Sox Nation,
Get ready. A patchwork bullpen that far exceeded expectations was a major factor in the big club building a big lead over the rest of the AL East. With the return of Mike Timlin and a key piece (JC Romero) being designated for assignment, the pen is evolving in to a bit of a question mark. Let’s face facts, this bullpen as presently constructed, is NOT good enough to lead the majors in bullpen ERA. How have they done it? On the strength of two individuals. Innings 8 and 9 are where our bread is buttered, with import Hideki Okajima and ironman Jonathan Papelbon. Who do you REALLY trust in the 7th inning? Let’s break it down.
For the past couple of years Timlin was the set up man and the rock of the Sox pen. This year? My feeling is that the 41 year-old reliever is running on fumes. He has been dealing with nagging injuries, and has been rendered ineffective when he has been on the mound. I have zero confidence when Tito makes the call and Timlin is the choice. It just seems like he is lacking the trademark late life on his heater that made him so useful through the years. Regardless, I find myself sweating bullets whenever that call is made.
As of late, the choice in the 7th has often been swingman Brendan Donnelly. Does he make anyone else EXTREMELY nervous? Something about the lackluster velocity on his fastball coupled with his herky-jerky motion. Can we just hand him the award for most violent delivery in baseball? There’s also the fact that Donnelly was a career minor league pitcher prior to age 31. That definitely irks me a bit. He turned in a treacherous month of May but has been very effective thus far in June. There’s just no way that more than 5 of you feel completely confident when he takes the hill. I can’t imagine that for a second.
I’m not going to give Joel Pineiro the honor of being discussed at length. Javier Lopez is in his second stint with the Sox and works well as a lefty specialist. He is not to be our go to 7th inning man, however.
What does all of this amount to? A two-man bullpen. That is not depth folks. There is no way that this pen is going to continue to enjoy the kind of success that they have so far in 2007. We better hope that the rotation continues to keep the pressure off. A stretch of sub-par starts could cause this pen to crack and send our season in to a frenzy. I fully believe that the pen is what will make or break the rest of the Red Sox 2007 season.

Categories: Brendan Donnelly Hideki Okajima J.C. Romero Javier Lopez Joel Pineiro Jonathan Papelbon Mike Timlin

9 Responses to “Bullpen Meltdown On The Horizon?” Subscribe

  1. sabes June 10, 2007 at 8:21 PM #

    romero was not a key piece. he could have value as a lefty specialist but we already have 2 guys who get lefties out. any pitcher with a 1.95 WHIP cannot be a key piece of anything. Donnelly is solid enough though, he is right around where he should be in terms of ERA. Okajima's will probably go up a run or so, and Snyder's will go up a couple runs. we won't continue leading MLB in bullpen ERA, but it's not a big worry.
    that said, timlin should be put out of his misery and MDC should be called up, he's wrecking AAA.

  2. Daniel Rathman June 10, 2007 at 8:34 PM #

    Scary, but I feel the same way. Though the guy I really want to see is Manny Delcarmen. Perhaps we should also give one of our AAA starters — Kason Gabbard or Hansack — a shot in the bullpen, if someone falters. And then there are Craig Breslow and Travis Hughes waiting in Pawtucket.
    This bullpen definitely worries me, but not as much as Lugo and Coco in the lineup.
    In other news, Adam Dunn is officially on the market:

  3. Mr. Furious June 11, 2007 at 7:49 AM #

    Agreed. At the start of the season the bullpen looked reletively stacked with bodies and names. Clearly, most of those "names" have been shown to be past-their-prime (Romero, Donnely) or just plain busts (Piniero).
    The bench has been similarly exposed of late. Except for Eric Hinske Day, the three-headed combo of WMP, Hinske and the immortal Mirabelli has been a brutal whiff-fest.
    I am confident (hopeful?) Drew will pull his shit together and be productive, but even so, we really do seem to be an injury away from disaster.

  4. Evan June 11, 2007 at 7:55 AM #

    Thing is, I'd rather have Romero than Timlin.

  5. LorfTVP June 11, 2007 at 9:11 AM #

    It also looks like Tavarez will rejoin the bullpen sooner than expected so you have to consider who goes when Lester returns and how much you trust Tavarez back in the pen.

  6. frank June 11, 2007 at 9:25 AM #

    wanna know how awful Lugo has been? read this:

  7. sabes June 11, 2007 at 3:06 PM #

    what game was wilbur watching, that was clearly a foul ball from manny. they replayed it many times on the arizona feed.

  8. Zach Hayes June 11, 2007 at 5:56 PM #

    Trade for Fuentes or Rauch. You're right Josh, a two-man bullpen isn't going to get us very far late in the season. Donnelly is okay, but Timlin is finished, and Pineiro sucks. Snyder is a long guy and Lopez is a LOOGY. It's not enough.
    Funny how we were all saying back in April our bullpen is so strong and the Yankees pen will implode because of so many early innings. Not saying that won't happen still, their pen sucks, but now we've gotten to the point of panic, too.
    Thanks a lot Craig Hansen.

  9. jvwalt June 12, 2007 at 6:19 AM #

    I agree that the pre-8th inning relievers don't inspire a lot of confidence, but how deep is anybody's bullpen? The key to successful pitching is to have your starters go deep into games, so that you don't need to put your 8th, 9th, or 10th best pitchers into high-stress situations. Go straight from the starter to Okajima or Papelbon, you've got no problem.
    That's the main reason the Sox have had a better-than-expected bullpen — the rotation has been so solid, that the pen hasn't been stretched very much. As long as that continues to be true, and there's no reason to think it won't, the lack of bullpen depth isn't a huge problem.
    Sure, I'd like more depth. I'd love to see MDC or another prospect step up and establish himself as a reliable bullpen arm. But I'm not worried enough to, say, make a panic trade for a Scott Linebrink or Chad Cordero.