The Boston Red Sox bullpen was a topic of discussion for most of the season.
From injuries to Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg, to Craig Kimbrel being unsteady in his role at times, plenty of questions were raised as to how the team would handle its relievers.
Fast forward to the playoffs and Boston manager Alex Cora wasn’t afraid to shake things up. The skipper used starters Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello in relief, while Matt Barnes impressed throughout the postseason. He allowed just one run over 6 1/3 innings.
Ryan Brasier and Joe Kelly (who struggled in September) also have been impressive on the mound.
The bullpen knew it had critics. But instead of letting it get to them, pitching coach Dana LeVangie used it as motivation.
?We had our moments before these playoff started,? LeVangie said, via NBC Sports Boston’s Evan Drellich. ?And I brought up some of the doubters, I put it in their mind and I challenged them: ?There?s some that believe we?re not going to win this because of the doubters.?
?I let ?em know that we won 108 games with them, that?s hard to do,” he added. “And there?s no reason why we can?t win 11 more with the same group. They just have to perform to their capabilities. Not do anymore.?
They’ve done just that, striking out 35 batters and collecting a 3.62 ERA through the American League Division and Championship Series.
The Red Sox will try to get those final four wins when the World Series begins Tuesday at Fenway Park against the Los Angeles Dodgers.