Josh Taylor allowed six earned runs over his first three appearances this season out of the Boston bullpen. He, like the Red Sox as a whole, largely were written off after an ugly start to the year.
Since then, Taylor has been not just one of the best relief pitchers in baseball, but one of the best left-handed relievers in Red Sox history.
Taylor has allowed just three earned runs over his last 26 outings, sporting a 1.27 ERA and .195 opponents batting average over that stretch. In fact, after allowing zero runs Tuesday night in Boston’s wild win over the Tampa Bay Rays, Taylor now has tossed 20 consecutive scoreless innings, good enough for a team record.
Check out this tweet from Red Sox Notes:
Boston’s bullpen entered the season with many question marks, only some of which have been answered by Matt Barnes’s dominance, Adam Ottavino’s stabilizing of the eighth inning and the emerge of rookie Garrett Whitlock.
But now, with Taylor dominating, Darwinzon Hernandez seemingly figuring things out and Hirokazu Sawamura being more than serviceable, the Red Sox can confidently say they have one of Major League Baseball’s best bullpens. The group’s 3.70 ERA (fourth in the American League) backs up that claim, as does their 2.3 WAR (10th in baseball).
Whether Taylor and the rest of the Red Sox bullpen keep this up is anyone’s guess. Already, there are justified concerns over Boston’s starting rotation throwing too few innings, and in turn over-taxing the bullpen.
But we’ll see how things shake out over the next couple months, and whether any reinforcements are added to the mix. The Red Sox could add a reliever or two at the trade deadline, and some have suggested that Chris Sale could join the bullpen upon his return, which appears relatively near.
For now, the Red Sox can take the field every day knowing they can trust Taylor and most of his fellow relievers to do their jobs at a high level. That’s no small thing.