The Red Sox are World Series champions after a 5-1 victory over the Dodgers in Game 5 on Sunday night in Los Angeles. One of the biggest keys to their dominance in this year's Fall Classic was the performance of their bullpen. Boston's relievers combined to post a 1.40 ERA with 28 strikeouts and seven walks over 25 2/3 innings to earn the title of Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford for the 2018 World Series.
As part of the MLB Prevailing Moments program, MLB.com has named the Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford throughout the 2018 season. An industry-wide panel of MLB experts, including legendary stats guru Bill James, constructed a metric based on James' widely renowned game-score formula to provide a weekly measurement of team bullpen performance.
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Here's how the Bullpen Rating System was compiled for each week during the regular season. For reference, a weekly score of 100 is considered outstanding:
• Add 1.5 points for each out recorded
• Add 1.5 points for each strikeout
• Add 5 points for a save
• Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed
• Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed
• Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed
• Subtract 1 point for each walk
• Subtract 5 points for a blown save
Similar considerations were used to measure bullpen performance during the postseason.
Boston's relief corps stymied Dodgers hitters throughout the World Series, with flamethrowers coming out of the bullpen to shut down Los Angeles' hopes of scoring in the late innings. Nathan Eovaldi and Joe Kelly led the way, with Eovaldi yielding one run over eight innings, and Kelly turning in six scoreless frames with 10 strikeouts and no walks.
The unexpected: In an 18-inning marathon loss in Game 3 -- the longest game in World Series history -- the Red Sox used Eovaldi, who was slated to start Game 4, for six-plus innings in relief as they tried to take a 3-0 Series lead. Eovaldi was brilliant, but he gave up a walk-off homer to Player Page for Max Muncy in the 18th. Boston sent Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound to start Game 4, and the left-hander surrendered a three-run homer to Yasiel Puig in the sixth inning that put the Red Sox in a 4-0 hole.
How they prevailed: Manager Alex Cora turned to his bullpen in relief of Rodriguez, summoning Matt Barnes to finish the sixth inning, and then bringing in Kelly for the seventh and eighth. The pair combined for 2 1/3 scoreless frames, giving the Red Sox's offense a chance to get back in the game. Boston not only erased the 4-0 deficit, but scored nine runs over the final three frames. Though the Dodgers reached closer Craig Kimbrel for two runs on an Enrique Hernandez homer in the ninth, Kimbrel nailed things down to move Boston within a victory of a championship. In Game 7, after starter David Price allowed just one run in seven-plus innings, Kelly struck out the side in the eighth and ace Chris Sale did the same in the ninth to cap off Boston's fourth World Series championship in 15 seasons.