A team that needs more bullpen depth, just got more bullpen depth.
Tuesday morning the Red Sox officially activated relief pitcher Carson Smith from the disabled list.
Smith was the offseason acquisition that wasn’t David Price or Craig Kimbrel. He won’t be an ace starting pitcher, and even at his best he’s unlikely to match the success of current Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel when it comes to finishing games. Smith’s presence in the bullpen is still likely to be a big plus for the Red Sox.
Adding Smith should immediately increase the likelihood that Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa get more off-days. Uehara is 41 years old and can’t be counted on to provide the same type of consistency he was once able to provide. Tazawa is much younger, but he spent the latter half of 2015 looking fatigued, and overuse may have had something to do with that.
There are a number of different roles Smith can play. He could serve as a bridge to the trio of Tazawa, Uehara, Kimbrel. Smith could enter a close game in the sixth and the Red Sox could conceivably use one reliever per inning until the game’s conclusion.
On any given night Smith could replace any one of the current three late-inning options. He’s been a late-inning guy, a set-up guy, he even spent time as a closer while with the Mariners in 2015. Smith appeared as a reliever in 70 games. He finished 24 of them, and was credited with a “save” 13 times.
Red Sox manager John Farrell would probably like to prevent any of the Red Sox relievers from appearing in 70 games this season. Carson Smith makes that a possibility.