The Boston Red Sox didn’t make a big splash at the Major League Baseball trade deadline, but the move they did make turned a question mark into a strength.
The Red Sox acquired right-hander Addison Reed from the New York Mets in exchange for three prospects Monday, and Boston immediately will slot Reed into the set-up man role when he arrives Tuesday.
Reed has been one of the best relievers in baseball since the Mets acquired him in August 2015, compiling a 2.05 ERA with 156 strikeouts and just 24 walks in 142 innings. The righty also has 19 saves this year, so while he’ll be setting up for All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel, he also gives the Red Sox an option to close should Kimbrel be unavailable.
The acquisition of Reed allows the Red Sox to bump Matt Barnes, who has been effective but inconsistent, to the seventh inning, until Joe Kelly returns, and save Heath Hembree for the middle innings. The move comes one day after Boston’s bullpen imploded in a 5-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals, but 24 hours later, the same group looks like it could be a dangerous weapon in October once the cabinet fully is stocked.
And that’s the key.
Kelly was fantastic as the Red Sox’s set-up man during the first half of the season, tallying a 1.39 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP in 36 1/3 innings. But he has been on the 10-day disabled list with a hamstring strain since the All-Star break. The hard-throwing right-hander is slated to throw batting practice Monday at Fenway Park before heading out on a rehab assignment.
The Sox also could see the return of Carson Smith later this season, as the right-hander, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, is getting “closer to facing hitters,” according to manager John Farrell, and could be an option during the playoff push. Smith has been dominant out of the bullpen in his career, posting a 2.00 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP in 82 outings, while averaging 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings.
While Smith’s availability remains up in the air, the possibility of adding Kelly and Smith to a bullpen that now features Reed, Kimbrel and Barnes should make the Red Sox salivate at the late-innings options.
A bullpen stocked with shut-down arms will allow Farrell to shorten the game and ask less of his starters. It also will take pressure off Barnes and Hembree, allowing them to work the middle innings rather than relying on them in the later stages of the game.
The Red Sox solidified their biggest weakness by adding Reed to the bullpen. With Kelly returning soon, and Smith looking to ramp up his rehab, Boston soon could boast a four-headed monster in the back-end of the bullpen. And if recent history means anything, that can make all the difference in October.
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