Brad Ziegler ‘A Godsend’ For Red Sox’s Depleted Bullpen, John Farrell Says

by NESN Staff

July 25, 2016

BOSTON — There hasn’t been much stability in the Red Sox’s pitching staff this season, but they managed to find a little bit in the Southwest.

The Red Sox acquired reliever Brad Ziegler from the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 8 for minor league right-hander Jose Almonte and infielder Luis Alejandro Basabe, and so far, the 36-year-old submariner has lit a spark under Boston’s bullpen. The right-hander has filled in on the back end after injuries to Craig Kimbrel (knee) and Koji Uehara (pectoral), and Ziegler has been dominant, sitting down 19 of the 20 batters he has faced in six relief appearances.

“He’s been a godsend, to be honest,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Sunday’s 8-7 win over the Minnesota Twins. “It?s a comfortable inning, it?s balls on the ground. I think he?s given up one hit in the 20-plus hitters he?s faced.

“He?s very calm. He?s experienced back there. His addition here has given us a huge boost in light of the injuries to Koji and Craig.”

As calm as Ziegler is on the mound, it’s not the same story before he gets there. After pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning Sunday with two strikeouts, Ziegler revealed that he’s actually a nervous wreck before coming out, and he’s still growing accustomed to the loud Fenway crowds.

“I?ll be honest, I get nervous when I?m watching the sixth, seventh, eighth inning of the game,” Ziegler said. “I picked my fingernails down too low one night. It?s a lot easier for me when I?m on the mound.

“And the crowds have been great. It got really loud today at the end of the game, and I?ve learned to kind of deal with that and hopefully not let it get the best of me too much. That way the fans don?t feel like they?ve got to stop cheering, but I love it. I love when they?re going crazy and hopefully rattling the hitter a little bit.”

Ziegler has been a solid closer in Kimbrel’s absence — he already had 18 saves in Arizona before he earned his first with Boston on Sunday — but he said he doesn’t want to steal anyone’s job. Plus, Ziegler is just having fun playing for the Red Sox in any capacity.

“It?s definitely a different atmosphere,” Ziegler said of Boston. “It?s fun to be on a team that basically when you show up to the park you expect to win, and it doesn?t matter who you?re playing. Doesn?t matter what stadium we?re in. My second game here, we?re going to Yankee Stadium right after the All-Star break, and I know the rivalry. I?d never been part of that, and we went out and beat them the first two games there.

“It?s a lot of fun. This is kind of what you — when you dream about playing as a kid, you dream about being in a pennant race and getting big out if you?re a pitcher. Getting big outs in games that matter. I think everybody?s just kind of feeding off each other right now, and, like I said, we?re playing really good ball.”

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Jul 20, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Brad Ziegler (29) pitches during the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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