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Red Sox Send Struggling Corey Kluber to the Bullpen

It has been a rough season for the Boston Red Sox‘s Corey Kluber. The former two-time Cy Young award winner is 2-6 with a 6.26 ERA this season, his first in Boston.

Corey Kluber Goes to the Bullpen for the Red Sox

With Corey Kluber headed for the bullpen, there is ambiguity for the Red Sox and the right-hander. Some pitchers feel becoming a reliever is a sign that they are no longer the pitcher they once were, the beginning of the end. Others have made the most of their opportunity with the transition. What will Corey Kluber’s experience be? Will he thrive like Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley did? Will Kluber continue to decline and have the same experience as fellow, two-time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum? It will be interesting to see how Kluber responds in his new role for the Red Sox.

The End or a New Beginning

A New Beginning

In some cases, pitchers transition from a starter to a reliever, and the results are astounding. One such case, and arguably the best example, was Dennis Eckersley. Eckersley was a starter for the first ten years of his Major League Baseball career. After the 1986 season, in which Eckersley struggled (6-11, 4.57 ERA), Eckersley was traded from the Chicago Cubs to the Oakland Athletics. At the time of the trade, Eckersley was told by A’s manager Tony La Russa, that he would like Eckersley to transition to a closer role. The results were incredible! Eckersley pitched another 12 seasons in the majors in his newfound role. He did so well that Eckersley managed to land himself in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The End

Others argue that going from a starter to the bullpen signifies that one’s career is beginning to see the sunset. In 2018, former Cy Young winner and World Series champion Tim Lincecum attempted a comeback (he sat out the 2017 season) with the Texas Rangers. Unlike Eckersley, Lincecum’s quest to become a reliever for the Rangers never got off the ground. He made ten appearances for the Rangers Triple-A affiliate. In those ten appearances, Lincecum pitched 12 and two-thirds of an inning, walked nine batters, and posted a 5.68 ERA. The Rangers released Lincecum on June 5, 2018.

What Does the Future Hold for Corey Kluber

The realization that this was a move the Red Sox know it’s for the best. Kluber has lost the velocity that had made him a dominant pitcher. The glaring reduction in his velocity was pointed out by commentators numerous times on the Red Sox flagship TV station. The hope is that Kluber can undoubtedly be a lot better than Lincecum. Still, likely nowhere near the level of reliever, Eckersley was. The Red Sox moved to help their pitching, potentially overall, strategically. Whether or not that move pays off will unfold soon. For Kluber, whether this is the beginning of a new chapter in his baseball career, or the final one, he should look back on what he achieved overall, regardless of the outcome of this season.

Photo Credit: © Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Players/managers mentioned:

Corey Kluber, Dennis Eckersley, Tim Lincecum, Tony La Russa


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