The pen is not mightier — not by any means.
Well, technically the Red Sox bullpen is mightier than one team, the 30-47 Indians, by .15 earned runs.
After finishing the 2009 season with a 3.80 ERA — the second-best bullpen ERA in the league — the Red Sox relief corp is now limping across the midway point of the 2010 season with a 4.80 ERA, the second worst in the AL.
On Tuesday, it took five pitchers and four runs to get the final six outs in the team's 8-5 win over the Rays. Wednesday was even worse as Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez were touched for six runs in the eighth inning. Heading into that frame, Boston was only down 3-1 and the Sox bats even managed to plate three in the bottom half, which would have put them up a run had it been for a smooth top half.
The Sox just finished up their most successful month of the season, as they went 18-9 in June. Amazingly, they pulled off this record despite the relievers combining for a 6.14 ERA and 1.62 WHIP — both worse than every other team in the American League.
Besides Daniel Bard and his 2.04 ERA, the pen men have been in trouble. In the month of June, the apparently injured Delcarmen's ERA was 12.96, while the club's lefty specialist, Hideki Okajima, checked in with a 6.52 ERA. Ramon Ramirez is up to 4.88 ERA, despite posting a 3.18 ERA this past month in over 30 innings pitched. Stopper Jonathan Papelbon, who has a 3.82 ERA overall this season, put up a 5.73 — not the ideal number your closer wants to have associated to his name.
Although the stats have been down, the team continues to win. They're banged-up and playing mediocre baseball, but the important thing is they're just a winning streak and a rebounding pen away from catching the Yankees and taking first place in the AL East. To get there, a helpful arm must step up and take charge of the bullpen. Will a current reliever pick things up in the second half, or does Boston need to dip into the minor leagues or trade pool to settle things in the late innings?