Felger’s back on vacation, so Tony Massarotti and guest host Dan Roche discuss Terry Francona’s management of the bullpen. Has Terry’s lack of trust in the relievers started to tax the starting pitching, Bard, and Papelbon in the process?
Massarotti: “Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon are both likely to be unavailable in today’s game, which is consistent with how Francona has managed his bullpen and pitching staff in the last few days. If you look at it, he’s [Francona] been all over the map. He doesn’t have enough options out there is what it comes down to. It’s clearly an unstable situation, through no fault of the manager. I think Francona is actually quite good at managing his staff. As manager of the Red Sox, Terry Francona has allowed a starting pitcher to throw 124 pitches or more on 9 occasions. It has now happened twice in the last 4 days for a guy who, prior to that, did it 7 times in the last 7 years. It says he has no faith in the bullpen. The team is suffering. They’re becoming vulnerable in the 8th inning because they’re stretching. So now, they’re not just vulnerable in the 7th, they’re also having trouble in the 8th because they’ve relied so heavily on Bard and Papelbon. They’re starting to stretch their starters and it’s creating a problem.”
Roche: “They’re starting to get guys back. They win 2 straight in Anaheim and they’re doing it behind their starting pitching. They’re getting everything they can from their starters and they’ve got nothing [in the bullpen] except for Bard and Papelbon. If I’m on this Red Sox team, I collectively turn to Theo Epstein and say ‘Theo, with what we’ve done and how we’ve battled to overcome injuries, you owe it to us to get us some help in that bullpen.’ Because right now, if you look at that team, that’s really their 1 weakness. The alarming weakness is right smack dab in the bullpen. Theo’s got to get some bullpen help. From what I understand, he’s [Theo Epstein] waiting out the market because the prices are way too high.”