By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox entered Wednesday trailing the Yankees by nine games in the AL East and sitting two games out of the second wild-card spot, trailing Tampa Bay, Oakland and Cleveland in the battle for two spots. The team ranked seventh in the AL in ERA and 10th in bullpen ERA, having blown 19 saves — second-most in the AL.
The defending champs looked to be in dire need of an arm or two as the 4 p.m. trade deadline approached.
Then, that deadline hit. No arms were coming.
The Boston Red Sox after the trade deadline will be the same as the Boston Red Sox before the trade deadline.
And with no waiver trades allowed this year, the Red Sox are going to have to figure out their own way to the postseason. They won’t be getting any help.
It’s certainly an odd and, frankly, surprising course of action for Dave Dombrowski to take. The bullpen has been a clear issue of need from the moment the Red Sox arrive in spring training, having let Craig Kimbrel (62.1 innings pitched in 2018) and Joe Kelly (65.2 innings) go. The team opted to enter the 2019 season with more questions than answers when it came to the bullpen.
Through 108 games, the answers have yet to materialize.
Compounding matters has been the underperformance of the starting rotation. The ERA of the starting pitchers has jumped from 3.77 last year to 4.77 this year.
The struggles of both the starting staff and the bullpen helps explain how the team that ranks No. 1 in MLB in runs scored is struggling to stay afloat in wild-card race.
While the price tag on Edwin Diaz may not have made sense for the Red Sox (or anyone, for that matter), it still would have been difficult for Dombrowski to make an addition to the bullpen who wouldn’t have represented an upgrade somewhere.
Nevertheless, that upgrade is not coming. The Red Sox were barely seen at all in any reports of talks on Wednesday. While that doesn’t mean they weren’t having those talks, but it might be an indicator that no discussions advanced anywhere. Meanwhile, plenty of arms moved around the league. Tanner Roark was traded from the Reds to the A’s. Former Sox Drew Pomeranz, Mark Melancon, and Roenis Elias were on the move. The Blue Jays traded Daniel Hudson to the Nationals. Shane Greene, Hunter Strickland and Nate Jones. Zack Greinke, having a career year, went to the Astros in a move that wasn’t reported until after the deadline.
And so, Wednesday night at Fenway, the Red Sox will get back to work, looking to make up for the game lost Tuesday by the starting pitcher and the bullpen, in what has lately been a Sisyphean attempt to climb back into the playoff picture.