BOSTON -- The Red Sox bullpen entered Monday tied with the Indians for the best ERA in the majors, 2.99. Now, to figure out how to best use it.
Craig Kimbrel’s not going to be used in the eighth inning even in situations that scream for it, barring a change of heart.
Who will be used seems fluid.
Righty Addison Reed was acquired from the Mets to be the second reliever behind Kimbrel, to be the eighth-inning guy -- or maybe the seventh-inning stopper who could put out a fire. The high-leverage, reliable option besides the closer.
But Reed needs to get back on track first, and what happened on Sunday night at Yankee Stadium certainly didn’t help.
Reed and manager John Farrell met shortly after an awkward moment where Farrell attempted to remove Reed during an at-bat in the ninth inning of a game tied at 2-2. The manager was told by umpires he couldn't because of the rule preventing two mound visits during the same at-bat. Reed, who had just been visited by pitching coach Carl Willis, missed down in on a 1-and-0 slider with one out and the winning run on second when Farrell tried to remove him. The umpires stopped him from doing so.
On the next pitch, Reed recorded the second out with a grounder that advanced the runner to third. Out came Farrell again, this time with a legal hook. Reed could be seen cursing as Farrell walked to the mound again to bring in Kimbrel.
“Understanding,” Farrell said of how Reed handled the subsequent meeting. “In a short period of time, I’ve come to know Addison as a very direct guy. He’s honest with himself. He doesn’t complicate matters by overthinking situations. He knows that in those late-innings spots, there’s little margin for error. Recognized some of the feedback I gave him from my perspective.
"I don't know that I would need to give the contents of the meeting, but I think it was a professional, good conversation.”
Reed had just six walks in 49 innings with the Mets, and already has two in 4 1/3 with the Red Sox. He also has a hit batsmen with the Sox, which hadn’t happened since 2014.
“I don’t have a lot of history personally with him,” Farrell said. “We’ve actually gone back and looked at quite a bit of video while with the Mets, and even earlier than that. The thing about it is, he’s been such a premium strike-thrower, that’s where a few of the sliders that have been held onto a little bit late just to ensure they don’t stay in the middle of the zone, particularly [at Yankee Stadium with its short right-field porch], I think that has something to do with the finish, or with where some of those sliders finished.”
Farrell said Reed would be the eighth-inning guy Monday night, and noted that Matt Barnes was down for the game. Barnes has pitched considerably better at home than on the road, so it’s worth seeing what happens when Barnes is available again.
Barnes has 18 walks on the road compared to eight at home.
“That's something that we continually not only talk with Matt about, but clearly, it says he's comfortable on the home mound here at Fenway,” Farrell said. “That goes a long way to a guy coming out, and particularly in his case, landing a first-pitch curveball, which is part of his attack plan. As we've seen on the road, that can set the tone for the at-bats that are unfolding. But his importance to that bullpen and the role he's been in all year, the more consistent strike-throwing on the road is the biggest thing.”