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Will last year’s weakness become a strength?

Will last year's weakness become a strength?

Assessing the Red Sox’ new-look bullpen for 2023 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Improving the bullpen was a top priority for Chaim Bloom and the Boston Red Sox during the offseason.

That came as no surprise following a dismal year in which Red Sox relievers amassed the fifth-worst ERA (4.59) and ninth-highest WHIP (1.36) in MLB. Boston lacked a go-to closer and its only lights-out arm out of the ‘pen, John Schreiber, was overworked and out of gas toward the end of the campaign.

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To remedy those issues, the Red Sox signed Kenley Jansen, Chris Martin, Joely Rodriguez, Wyatt Mills, and a handful of depth pieces. They also traded 2018 World Series champion Matt Barnes to the Miami Marlins for southpaw Richard Bleier.

The overhaul shows a serious effort to turn a glaring weakness into a strength. There is obvious upside with this new-look group. But like the rest of the 2023 Red Sox roster, it includes some risks.

Here’s a closer look at the Boston bullpen ahead of Opening Day, including best and worst-case scenarios for each pitcher.

Wyatt Mills, RHP

2022 stats: 4.60 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 13 BB, 26 SO, 29.1 IP (27 appearances with Seattle Mariners)

The Red Sox acquired Mills from the Royals in December and hope he’ll be this year’s breakout bullpen arm. The 28-year-old sidearmer’s delivery is similar to last year’s breakout reliever, John Schreiber. He boasts impressive stuff and that has shown this spring through his 10 strikeouts in six innings pitched (five appearances). If Mills lives up to the hype, he could be the X-factor in Boston’s ‘pen. If he struggles out of the gate, he could quickly lose his spot.

Best-case scenario for 2023: Mills breaks out as this year’s version of John Schreiber.

Worst-case scenario for 2023: Mills loses his spot in the big-league bullpen and fails to make an impact with the club in 2023.

2022 stats: 5.78 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 13 BB, 64 SO, 62.1 IP (68 appearances)

Brasier was considered a likely cut candidate after a lousy 2022, but Bloom believes the right-hander is posed for a bounce-back season. He made that clear after he designated Barnes for assignment instead of Brasier in January. Brasier was outstanding during Boston’s 2018 World Series run but hasn’t been all that effective since. He’ll get his shot at redemption, but he should have a short leash in 2023.

Best-case scenario for 2023: Brasier bounces back from his disastrous 2022 season with…

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