This could be the key to a June rebound for Red Sox

June 3rd, 2022

This story was excerpted from Ian Browne’s Red Sox Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Now entering the third calendar month of the 2022 season, the Red Sox are searching for more than just wins. They are searching for dependability in the bullpen.

If the Red Sox are going to turn this season into what they thought it could be, June is going to have to be better than April (9-13) or May (14-14).

And to get there, the relief crew will need to do more.

Here is the good news: The offense came to life in May. After putting up a .225/.273/.336 line with 12 homers, 75 RBIs and an average of 3.5 runs per game in April, the rebound (.282/.346/.476 line with 37 homers, 154 RBIs, 5.7 RPG) in May was significant.

Here is the bad news: The bullpen continued to hold the club back from getting back to .500.

In April, the bullpen converted just five of 11 save opportunities, but had a respectable 3.23 ERA while allowing eight home runs and holding opponents to a .216 batting average.

Things weren’t as good in May as the bullpen again turned too many potential wins into losses, converting just three of nine save opportunities while notching a 4.57 ERA and allowing 17 homers.

But what about that bullpen? The Red Sox still don’t have a set closer. John Schreiber and Tyler Danish, who weren’t even on the radar of leverage options heading into Spring Training, are now primary setup men. The ninth inning continues to be a game of mix-and-match for manager Alex Cora.

Matt Barnes has struggled mightily all season and is now on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation. Hansel Robles, perhaps Boston’s best reliever this season, is out until at least midway through the upcoming West Coast trip due to back spasms.

The Red Sox entered June at 8-for-20 in save opportunities. Only the Mariners and Nationals started the month with fewer saves than the Red Sox.

“If you go back to where we wanted to be when we started the season, this isn’t where we wanted to be,” said Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom. “It’s fair to say at this point, we were hoping to have a more settled picture in the bullpen than we’ve had.”

To settle the situation, Bloom might have to make a trade or two. There could also be some help on the way from Triple-A.

The return of Chris Sale in early July or so should benefit the bullpen because it could open up the possibility of Garrett Whitlock moving back to the bullpen, where he dominated last season.