Dombrowski says trade for reliever not 'a glaring need' for Red Sox

Dombrowski says trade for reliever not 'a glaring need' for Red Sox

BOSTON — There are three points to consider when looking at the Red Sox bullpen: how good it has been, whether it should continue to be this good, and whether it’s built to compete in the playoffs.

So far, they’ve been great, with a 3.04 ERA, the second best mark in the American League and the third best in the majors. But Sox manager John Farrell prefers rather delineated roles, and the eighth inning hasn’t exactly been a job held wire-to-wire.

Whether Joe Kelly can hold up and go back-to-back in the second half; whether Robby Scott can find his way after scuffling lately; whether Matt Barnes can settle his control; all of this adds up to some questions, even for Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski’s father.

“We were sitting there on Monday,” Dombrowski said. “My parents are in town. So, they're sitting there and my dad's a big baseball fan, he follows us. And he said, 'Gosh, it looks like you really need a setup guy, right?' And I said, 'I'm not sure why we need a setup man.' I said, 'Dad, Joe Kelly hasn't given up a run in 2 1/2 months. It's the first run he's given up in 2 1/2 months, and now all of a sudden, we need a setup guy.' 

“Can you get better? Yes. I don't think it's a glaring need for us. I think we'll keep an open mind again. For example, I don't think we're going to get starting pitching. I think our starting pitching is set. There's a couple of other places that you could be open-minded to, but I don't feel it's a glaring need in the sense that we do have, I think it's the second-best bullpen in the American League. Kelly's thrown well, Barnes has thrown well. We need a little more consistency from him. And [Heath] Hembree’s done a good job. Again, I think it's an area to keep an open mind to.”

The Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals of recent years have shown how power bullpen arms can swing the pendulum in short series. The Sox aren’t lacking in velocity, but, in a way that’s similar to their third base, they do lack guys with long track records — Craig Kimbrel aside. 

Still, Dombrowski has a point. To say the second-best bullpen in the American League has a glaring need would be hyperbole.

Carson Smith’s supposed to get on a mound soon, but it’s hard to put much stock in him as he comes back from a shoulder injury suffered rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

Sale on the latest JBJ spectacular catch: 'What's wrong with that guy?'

Sale on the latest JBJ spectacular catch: 'What's wrong with that guy?'

The catches are becoming routine but that doesn't make them any less spectacular.

"'What's wrong with that guy?'" is what Chris Sale asked third baseman Brock Holt after they watched Jackie Bradley Jr. turn what surely looked like an extra base hit off the bat by the Angels' Yunel Escobar into another highlight-reel grab in the first inning of the Red Sox' 6-2 victory over the Angels in Anaheim on Friday night. 

"I literally, I looked at Brock and said, 'What's wrong with that guy?'" Sale told reporters, including's Jen McCaffrey. "It just seems like once he makes a great catch, it's like, all right, that's the best one. And then he makes another one, and ok, that's the best one now. It just seems like he's always raising the bar. It's fun to watch."

Less than a week after robbing the Yankees' Aaron Judge of a home run with his catch in the triangle at Fenway (below), Bradley explained yet another spectacular catch, this time to NESN's Jahmai Webster.  

“Off the bat, it was well hit,” Bradley Jr. told Webster “Head[ed] towards the gap, I believe he had two strikes on him, so I was playing him toward the opposite field a little bit. I took off, tried to gauge as much as I possibly can, tried to time up my steps to try to make a leap...I wanted to go for it.”

"That's a big-time play by a big-time player," Sale said. 

"I don't know if you expect it, but I guess we're starting to, especially with what they're doing out there," Sale said. "Those guys, all four [outfielder, Bradley, Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Chris Young], they work as hard as anybody, and they cover a lot of ground. I've said it before, it feels like we have four outfielders out there sometimes playing in the same game. It definitely doesn't go unnoticed by us as pitchers, and I think our whole team appreciates the effort all the way around."

On Twitter, JBJ's play drew an "Angels In The Outfield" comparison from fellow center fielder Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles.