John Farrell Has a Bullpen Problem, and That Means the Red Sox Have a John Farrell Problem

In less than one week, the ever-predictable John Farrell made the same terrible decisions regarding his bullpen.  Twice.  On Sunday night, he used Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel in the final game of the Yankees series, a game the Sox won easily, 5-1.  Of course, that meant he then did not have his two most reliable pitchers warming in the bullpen during the first game of the series in Cleveland, and the Sox lost 5-4.  Last night, as the Red Sox were coasting to an easy 6-1 lead, Farrell again turned to Reed and Kimbrel, arguably the only two pitchers we’ve been able to count on at all in later innings.

In a repeat of his performance against the Tribe last year as a White Sock, Sale gave up seven hits and six runs over just three innings.  The Indians then worked their way through Hembree, Workman, Boyer, and Abad – who each gave up at least one run – to add six runs to their 7-1 lead as they went.  Addison Reed, who we acquired before the trade deadline for this exact kind of game, was unavailable, his talent wasted the night before.  In short, it was a total disaster.

Now, I’m not saying this all could’ve been avoided if Reed and Kimbrel had been available.  They couldn’t have stopped Sale from practically giving runs away, but they sure as hell could’ve stemmed the bleeding.  And I’m also not saying that Hembree or Barnes wouldn’t have blown the last two games that we won, but when you’re already losing, you definitely want the pitchers who won’t make it worse.

When you make the mistake once, it’s a mistake.  When you make it twice over a four-day period, it’s just dumb.  If I have to watch my precious Red Sox get blown out of the water by the Dodgers in the World Series because of dumb decisions like the ones that Farrell made this week, I will lose it.  Actually, it won’t even get that far if things keep getting handled like they did in tonight’s game.  The Red Sox aren’t good enough to be making mistakes like this.  Our lead over the Yankees has shrunk this week, and it seems like half the team is getting injured, joining Price and Pedroia on the DL.  JBJ hurt his thumb, Mookie exited tonight’s game with an as-yet undisclosed injury, and I’m pretty sure Matt Barnes is just on the DL to prevent him from ruining any more away games.

Everyone was saying that this series against the Indians was the most crucial of the remaining games, because, in all likelihood, we’ll be playing them in the postseason.  We tied the series 2-2, but what we learned from these games is even more important than wins and losses.  Chris Sale cannot pitch against the Indians, and that is a massive problem.  The Red Sox already have a designated postseason-fuckup named David Price.  Dude couldn’t pitch against us when he played for the Rays in 2013, and he’s not even pitching at all now.  We cannot rely on Drew Pomeranz and Doug Fister to carry us to a World Series; the mere notion has me laughing.  And our hitting continues to be sporadic: Mitch Moreland went 3-4 with two homers and four RBIs, but Ramirez, Devers, Leon, and Holt were all hitless.  The power isn’t there, at least not the way it should be.

It all circles back to the question that has been floating around for the past few years: is John Farrell a good enough manager?  Until recently, I was never a big Farrell critic; I admired what he did with the team in 2013, and the man beat cancer and came back strong.  But one World Series trophy does not guarantee you tenure.  Farrell makes the same bad decisions over and over, and the results are almost always the same: we lose.  The fact that he does not learn from these losses is a massive problem; sports are a results-based business, after all.  He also might not be the best guy to lead a team with so many very young players; David Ortiz picked up a lot of slack for him in that department, as de facto father figure to Hanley and others, but he seems to be having too much fun as a retiree to come back and manage his former teammates.  I’m not sure we have a viable alternative or replacement for Farrell, which means I’m talking about a problem without a real solution, and that in and of itself is a problem.

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