There were many times during the 2015 season when the Boston Red Sox turned the ball over to the bullpen and no one knew for sure whether the relievers would hold the lead. Things will probably be a little different in 2016.
One of the biggest areas of focus for new Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski this offseason has been retooling the bullpen. Dombrowski got the ball rolling by acquiring All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel in November and kept things going by trading for Seattle setup man Carson Smith at the winter meetings.
Add in options like Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa and Robbie Ross Jr., and you can see why Kimbrel is expecting a major turnaround for the Boston bullpen in 2016.
“It’s not going to matter if the starter goes six innings or if he goes eight innings,” Kimbrel told RedSox.com at the team’s Christmas at Fenway event Saturday. “We’re not going to lose games when the starter comes out. We’re going to expect our bullpen to go out there and carry those innings throughout the entire season.”
That sort of accountability alone should go a long way, and Kimbrel insisted he’ll have the highest accountability for himself, even in a city like Boston where every game, inning and even pitch can be scrutinized.
“Nobody can be harder on me than myself,” Kimbrel added. “If I blow a save and get booed, I deserve it. I expect the highest out of myself, so I don’t think that would get to me much at all.
“My idea is to get the ball the next night and come out and get my job done. Then everybody can cheer.”
Thumbnail photo via Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports Images
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