We’ve gotten a few from the lineup up, and while I’m tempted to dive into the rotation I figured why not go with our bullpen.
While DD made waves by bringing David Price in to the Sox, the bullpen really was the weakest link last season making Craig Kimbrel, in my humble opinion, one the biggest game-changing deals for the Sox this past winter. Last year we relied on Koji Uehara for half a season, during which he was solid but not entirely bullet proof. Then we were resigned to a combo of Matt Barnes, Junichi Tazawa and the least-drunk fan behind the dugout who figured why not give it a shot.
Well those days are over.
Kimbrel, at 27 years old, boasts quite the resume.
In six seasons, five full, he’s accrued 225 saves, leading the league for four seasons in a row. His career ERA is 1.63, and his k/9 rate is a deadly 14.5. The bottom line is that Kimbrel is not only good, he is GOOD. For the first time since Jonathan Papelbon didn’t suck the Sox have a dominant closer, a guy they can rely on, a guy that will strike fear into the hearts of opposing teams in close games and late innings.
The real question though is can Kimbrel’s success transfer over to the AL East?
We’ve seen plenty of star relievers come in to town and promptly suck, which makes purchasing a closer a tricky thing–because you have no idea what will actually happen. Given Kimbrel’s bulldog mentality, history of health, and the fact that he’s right in his prime I wouldn’t be too worried.
He seems up to the challenge:
2015 was a “down year” for Kimbrel as he posted a 2.58 ERA while collecting “only” 39 saves. Should he bounceback, and I hope he will, an ERA in the low-two’s alongside 35-45 saves isn’t unreasonable. Kimbrel will get plenty of backup with Carson Smith and Koji so overuse shouldn’t be an issue, keeping him in optimal form.