Red Sox

Indians’ closer Allen sheds light on issues bothering Red Sox’ bullpen

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Indians’ closer Allen sheds light on issues bothering Red Sox’ bullpen

BOSTON -- Although it hasn’t been the problem so far in the ALDS, the Red Sox’ bullpen has been the biggest question mark on this team throughout the season.

There have been multiple topics of discussion regarding almost every reliever: pitching in a clean inning versus runners on base, pitching in a non-save situation, not have a set inning -- you name it, it’s been brought up.

As for their ALDS opponent, Andrew Miller - known more as a late-inning, high-leverage reliever - entered in the fifth inning of Game 1 for the Indians. Not only that, he pitched two innings and struck out four.

Some might say, “Well Andrew Miller is debatably the best reliever in the game,” which is a fair claim.

IN FACT… Miller’s lock-down appearance reminiscent of 2013 Koji

But Cleveland’s No. 2 in its bullpen is closer Cody Allen, who had a 2.51 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 68 innings. Although Allen’s been the Indians primary closer since 2014, there was a time where he pitched as early as the fifth inning.

In fact, earlier in his career, he also pitched in innings two through four. The Red Sox saw him earn the save Thursday after a 1 2/3-inning appearance, with four strikeouts, too.

So, the natural question is, “Can Allen do what Miller’s doing if need be?”

“Absolutely,” Allen told CSNNE.com after Sunday Game 3 was rained out. “I think it’s more so just not being caught off guard. Tito [Francona] does a really good job of communicating with us about certain scenarios that may come up throughout the game that we may be used that’s maybe not a situation where we would normally throw.

“So, as long as we’re aware that it could happen, you’re going to prepare yourself. And as long as you prepare yourself accordingly you’re not going to be caught off guard.”

The Indians closer has no problem pitching outside of the ninth inning.

What about dealing with a clean inning versus coming in with runners on, is that a problem?

“No,” Allen said. “You know obviously [when] you come in with a clean inning you can help try and dictate what happens.

“But you’re just called in -- you just pitch when you’re asked to pitch; whether there’s guys on base, certain scenarios call for something where you’re trying to strand a couple guys out there or you come in with first and third and trying to get a double play ball. It’s more just going out there and you’re facing a really good hitter and just trying to make good pitches and get that guy out.”

Now comparing Allen to Red Sox reliever Brad Ziegler isn’t necessarily fair, given Ziegler is not a strikeout pitcher -- so he’s at a noticeable disadvantage from Allen in those situations.

However, Allen shed a lot of light on the issues surrounding the 2016 Boston bullpen.

If nothing else, Boston’s relievers should heed one message from the Orlando, Florida native: “You just pitch when you’re asked to pitch.”

That might solve a few headaches in the future.

MLB rumors: Mets have talked to Red Sox about trade for a catcher

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MLB rumors: Mets have talked to Red Sox about trade for a catcher

The Boston Red Sox have great depth at catcher with three Major League-caliber players at the position, so it's not surprising that at least one team has contacted the 2018 World Series champions about a potential trade.

The New York Mets are one such team, as reported Wednesday by MLB.com's Anthony DiComo.

DiComo also was asked about the Mets' possible interest in other Red Sox players, and he gave the following response:

The Mets haven't had the best success with catchers since Mike Piazza left the franchise after the 2005 season.

Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez are good behind the plate, but neither of them are quality hitters. Leon batted .177 over 89 regular season games in 2018, while Vazquez batted .207 in 80 games. Swihart isn't as good defensively, but he's a slightly better hitter. He batted .229 in 82 games but is a career .256 hitter.

The Red Sox lost reliever Joe Kelly to the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency and could lose closer Craig Kimbrel, too. Trading one of these catchers could clear some salary for a free-agent bullpen arm or be enough to get a Major League reliever in return. Either way, catcher is a position of depth the Red Sox should consider using to address some of their roster weaknesses.

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Red Sox fans give great replies to MLB tweet on Yankees' Manny Machado meeting

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Red Sox fans give great replies to MLB tweet on Yankees' Manny Machado meeting

The New York Yankees will meet with third baseman Manny Machado this week, and Major League Baseball's official Twitter account asked fans for their best free-agent pitch. 

As you might expect, many Red Sox fans, fresh off a World Series celebration, chimed in with responses. Several of them were pretty funny. Here's a round up of the best ones.

Machado, of course, was the final out of the 2018 World Series when Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale struck out the Dodgers star on a nasty breaking ball in Game 5. Machado didn't play well in the Fall Classic and was accused of dirty play when he was seen stepping on Red Sox first baseman Steve Pearce in Game 4. It certainly wasn't the best show he could have put on for potential free-agent suitors.

Still, Machado is expected to get a massive long-term contract as an elite player in the prime of his career. The Red Sox vs. Yankees rivalry was reinvigorated last season when Boston eliminated New York in the American League Division Series, and the tensions between these teams only will increase if Machado takes his talents to the Bronx in free agency. 

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