Without Justin Masterson, the Red Sox relievers temporarily and collectively lost their way. The Red Sox bullpen had been the best in the big leagues for most of the season, and with the addition of Billy Wagner, it may well return to that status.
But since the trade deadline, the day Masterson was traded to the Cleveland Indians, the bullpen has posted a 4.62 ERA. From Opening Day until Aug. 30, the bullpen had a 3.18 ERA.
The Sox bullpen may have finally recovered from the loss of Masterson, even as Wagner waits to make his debut. Saturday night, after Josh Beckett turned in another clunker, four Sox relievers combined to strike out eight Blue Jays in four scoreless innings. They were the unsung heros of a stirring win.
Since last Saturday, the bullpen is 4-0 with a 1.25 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings. The bullpen has thrown three or more innings in four of seven games, picking up for the starters when they have faltered. In those seven games, the Sox went 5-2.
The Red Sox bullpen was once their best asset. It might be turning into that again.
(If you’re wondering: Masterson is 1-2 with a 4.37 ERA for the Indians.)