Given that Boston Red Sox baseball fans have the patience of five-year-olds in kindergarten, panic is probably setting in about the team’s bullpen three games into the season. Manager Bobby Valentine is probably locked in a hotel bathroom screaming.
Before the season started new closer Andrew Bailey went on the disabled list and his throwing arm is in a sling for months, at least. Backup closer Mark Melancon inserted into the role. This is after the Red Sox let long-time closer Jonathan Papelbon walk. So what happens on opening day? Melancon blows a save and the Red Sox lose. Papelbon saves the game for his new team, the Philadelphia Phillies, preserving a win.
This brings us to Sunday where the Red Sox were leading the Detroit Tigers 10-7 when reliever Alfredo Aceves comes in and surrenders a three-run homer. Tie game, extra innings. The Red Sox wrangle the lead again, call upon Melancon, who comes in and promptly blows the save. Either this is all just bad luck and bad timing or without reinforcements Valentine going to the Sox bullpen is going to be like playing Russian roulette all season.
The disheartening loss left Boston at 0-3. The uplifting win left Detroit at 3-0. On Monday morning 10 teams in baseball had either 3-0 or 0-3 records. Fast starts and slow starts. How much does that mean? It’s not as if either record can’t be overcome. It’s just one of the quirks of the game. We’ll see in several days how many teams are 7-0 or 0-7. That might occasion some are-they-for-real thinking.
On the flip side, as in so far, so good, the Cincinnati Reds started the season with the same kind of bullpen concerns as the Red S0x. Last year’s closer, Francisco Cordero, was a free agent and not signed. The Reds brought in what seemed to be a very reliable replacement in Ryan Madson. Only Madson got hurt and is out for the year, probably sitting around a movie theatre watching double features somewhere with Bailey.
Unlike the Red Sox, the Reds’ Plan B (Or is it Plan C?) has been working. Cincinnati moved set-up man Sean Marshall to closer and on Opening Day versus Miami he took care of things with a dominating ninth inning. The Reds moved Aroldis Chapman into Marshall’s role instead of employing him as a starter and he pitched a perfect eighth in the opener and then on Sunday pitched two middle innings of relief and got the win.
So Boston fans probably think Valentine is a moron for his handling of pitchers and Cincinnati fans probably think manager Dusty Baker is a genius for his handling of pitchers. And really what it’s all about is which side of the bed relievers roll out of in the morning.
Topics: Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Bailey, Aroldis Chapman, Bobby Valentine, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers, Dusty Baker, Francisco Cordero, Jonathan Papelbon, Mark Melancon, Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, Ryan Madson, Sean Marshall