The pen’s ERA is down 0.37 from last year. After a season in which opponents slugged a gaudy .414 versus the Boston bullpen, that figure is down to a manageable .375. Blown leads have been the exception rather than the norm.
However, Boston’s relief corps has been anything but stable in terms in terms of personnel. Five relievers have hit the disabled list with one of them, Bobby Jenks, doing so twice. Rich Hill, who had emerged in his short time as a shutdown option, is lost for the year.
Already, 40 separate transactions have involved relievers, and 16 different men have appeared out of the bullpen. Last year, even amid the massive struggles, only 18 relievers made an appearance, excluding Bill Hall and Jonathan Van Every‘s moments in the sun.
Bullpens are often fluid places with plenty of movement, but Tuesday’s transactions for the Red Sox represent, at the very least, an opportunity for the crew to take shape and find some stability.
Jenks and Franklin Morales have been activated. Scott Atchison and Tommy Hottovy have been optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Of course, Jenks is the key name. This will represent, in a way, a third chance to start his Red Sox career after injuries have sidelined him twice. The man that figured to share setup duties with Daniel Bard has been limited to four innings since the end of April.
One reason that the bullpen was expected to be a strength was the offseason signing of Jenks. Without him, it has survived. With him, and with the right-hander throwing the way he can, it can take a step beyond being just OK. If not, that fluidity will remain.
Do not discount the other move of the day. Morales was acquired May 19 from Colorado as a hard-throwing, high-upside lefty. When he went on the disabled list just 10 days and two games later, it was an unfortunate case of bad timing. Hill suffered his elbow injury three days after that, robbing the pen of two lefties in a short time span.
Had Morales been healthy, he would’ve taken some of the outs that Hill was getting. Not all, but some. And if the 25-year-old Morales had harnessed his stuff under the tutelage of Curt Young, perhaps he would’ve emerged as a legitimate weapon.
Now, like Jenks, he gets another chance to start fresh with his new team. And that new team can hope that its bullpen finally settles down.
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