Ryan Dempster could give the Red Sox bullpen a big lift this postseason
With the MLB postseason just a little over a week away, the Red Sox seem to be in a very good position having already clinched the American League East title. They have the third best starters’ ERA in the American League at 3.81 and lead the AL in runs per game with 5.16. But, as is the case with all teams, there are going to be flaws and in the case of the Red Sox they are still searching for a dependable seventh and eighth inning reliever before getting to closer Koji Uehara.
Brandon Workman was thought to be that guy, but in the seventh and eighth innings this year he has an ERA of 8.83. The same can be said for Drake Britton, especially after beginning his professional career with seven straight scoreless appearances, but Britton has struggled since, allowing six runs over his next five innings. He hasn’t regained the trust of manager John Farrell as he’s thrown just 3 1/3 innings over the past 17 days.
Junichi Tazawa was dominant early in the year, but has leveled off of late, possibly due to his innings workload. He had a combined 2.72 ERA over June, July and August, but that has jumped to 5.14 for the month of September. Besides Craig Breslow (3-0, 0.63 ERA since July 9), the Sox really don’t have anyone else to rely on … although that could have changed this past week.
Starter Ryan Dempster has been moved to the bullpen for the remainder of the year and could provide some much needed relief help. The 36-year-old has prior relief experience as he was a closer for the Cubs from 2005-2007, totaling 85 saves over the three years. His 8.3 strikeouts per nine innings this season also gives him the ability to come into games and get a big strikeout if needed.
“I think it’s awesome,” Dempster said. “Hopefully [the team] can lean on me in high pressure situations.”
He made his first relief appearance of the season last Saturday against the Blue Jays, throwing a scoreless eighth inning. Being a starter for the whole season, and the past five years for that matter, there is going to be an adjustment period.
“If I can get as many [appearances] as I possibly can, just to get into different situations, that way I can just get familiar with that again,” Dempster said.
Dempster moving to the bullpen could prove to be one of the best decisions the team makes all season, especially come playoff time with how valuable relief pitching is.
Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @Hannable84