Change-UpOctober 07, 2008
Boston Bullpen
By Patrick Sullivan

As bad as Mike Scioscia was last night, Terry Francona was not much better. His bullpen management was curious at best, but one positive that may have emerged from the evening is that he might now realize that Manny Delcarmen is a really good pitcher.

After not using him in the first two games of the series, both hotly contested, close contests that called for high-leverage relief work, it had become evident that Tito did not really trust him. But then Delcarmen allowed just one baserunner in 1.2 innings in Game 3 and then got the win last night when he came in for the squeeze-out and the Aybar ground-out.

The Red Sox have an excellent bullpen so Francona may never have been exposed for overlooking Delcarmen, but have a look at how he stacks up against his peers in the Boston pen. He deserves to occupy more high-leverage Francona mind share.

Final Two Months of 2008 Season
            IP    H   BB   K   R
Delcarmen  29.1  16   12  29   7 
Masterson  28.0  21   12  24   6   
Okajima    20.0  11    6  21   6
Papelbon   24.0  24    1  23   8

There aren't many relievers in baseball, much less on his own roster, to whom Delcarmen should be taking a back seat. Maybe Tito has now discovered that.


Thanks for writing this. I find it to be comepletely irrational that he is so overlooked, both by Tito and by the Boston media/fans.

Based on those stats, MDC might be the third-best option, but he certainly doesn't rank with Papelbon and Okajima as one of the top two.

Boston has an xlnt bullpen, and it should continue to serve the club well in the ALCS -- and the World Series if the Sox can beat the Rays in the upcoming best of seven.

I don't necessarily disagree that Delcarmen should be pitching in more important situations than Masterson, but I don't think you should be basing any decision of this nature on 20-30 innings of work.

Relievers do not throw many innings to begin with so two months of performance, the two most recent months of performance, will do a pretty good job of telling you who will continue to perform.

As far as Rich's remarks, I think all I am advocating is that Francona flip Masterson and Delcarmen in terms of how he thinks about their respective roles.

I think the Sox have tried to slowly work Delcarmen into high leverage innings all season long. And each time he got to the point of getting important work he started melting down. At one point about 2/3 of the way through the season, Delcarmen's stats (admittedly in small sample sizes) had a consistent motif to them. The closer the game, the worse he pitched. In a game with a 4 run or greater margin he was Goose Delcarmen. In a tie game he was terrible. I hope he's past that.

These statistics don't mean anything unless we get some genuine context. If, as you say, Tito hasn't trusted Manny in tight spots recently, then Delcarmen's innings the past two months may have been in blowout games, or against weaker batters than Masterson. Certainly, Manny has not faced the same situations as Papelbon. You'll have to do better than this to convince me... of course a few more outings like Manny's ALDS innings might do the trick.