Even though the Boston Red Sox struggled to close out games in their series against the St. Louis Cardinals, they did establish roles for their go-to arms out of the bullpen.
The high-leverage responsibilities are now squarely on the shoulders of John Schreiber and Tanner Houck. Houck has taken over as Boston’s closer and registered two one-out saves in the series against the Cardinals, including in Sunday’s 6-4 win at Fenway Park, while Schreiber has excelled battling the toughest parts of an opposing lineup and owned the eighth inning in the Red Sox’s latest victory.
“It’s kind of back to old school baseball,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said, as seen on NESN postgame coverage. “Unique structure back there, and since (Schreiber) got here, it started with him and other guys have thrown the ball well. We feel comfortable with where we’re at bullpen-wise.”
While Houck came on in the ninth inning to preserve a win for his fourth save of the season — the most of anyone on the Red Sox — Schreiber was the star of the bullpen on Sunday for the way he mowed down the Cardinals’ big bats.
Schreiber faced the heart of St. Louis’ order, which included Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, in the eighth inning while holding on to a slim two-run lead. But Schreiber was ultra impressive when faced with that challenge, first striking out Brendan Donovan before getting two elite hitters in Goldschmidt and Arenado to whiff.
Schreiber, who hasn’t allowed a run over his last eight appearances and has posted a microscopic 0.87 ERA this season, can set up shop in the eighth inning from now on if Cora plans to continue to use him that way. But one thing is for sure, Schreiber has earned his manager’s trust no matter the situation.
“A lot of people work hard to get to this point, starting with him, obviously,” Cora said. “He throws strikes with good stuff. He’s 92 to 95 (mph with his fastball) with a slider. There’s a lot of confidence. We like him in that role.”