Boston Red Sox reliever Burke Badenhop is the epitome of an MLB journeyman. Pitching for his fifth big league organization, Badenhop has put up successful numbers during his career, but has been a consistently expendable piece that hasn’t established solidified footing with any big league team. However, despite a rocky start in April, Badenhop has proven himself worthy to be a major contributor to the Red Sox’ bullpen after several solid outings in 2014.
Badenhop, who was acquired by the Red Sox from the Milwaukee Brewers shortly after the 2013 season, has gone 0-2 with a 3.50 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 appearances for the Red Sox. The 31-year-old reliever has not allowed a run in 8.2 innings and has helped the Red Sox in several close situations recently.
One attribute that Badenhop possesses is his durability throughout the season. Badenhop, who has pitched over 60 games in each of his last two seasons, has been used as a mop-up pitcher to get out of jams or close the door on opposing offenses. His durability as a pitcher helps any rotation, but especially with pitchers (Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront especially) who can’t make it out of the fifth inning, Badenhop’s flexibility comes in handy, making the Red Sox a deeper squad in the process.
In addition to his durability, Badenhop has been successful with the Red Sox due to his ability to confuse opposing hitters with his pitch arsenal. Despite a low-speed fastball, Badenhop mixes it up with a solid change-up and blistering curveball. As many hitters have witnessed, when Badenhop’s pitches are particularly up to par, they are hard to hit, making him a well-rounded pitcher with the capacity to assert himself as of the game’s best confusers.
Stamina is another strong feature of Badenhop’s game which has been prevalent in many long-relief situations during the 2014 season. After Buchholz was chased by the Baltimore Orioles during the third inning of their game on Apr. 21, Badenhop was pressed into duty, and did not disappoint. In 3.2 innings, Badenhop allowed just one hit, and struck out one hitter. However, the significance of his outing came when he held the Orioles scoreless, helping the Red Sox as they came back from a 6-0 deficit (they would ultimately lose, 7-6).
In essence, Badenhop has become a dependable reliever who has increased the depth of the Red Sox’ bullpen with his durability, reliability and arsenal of pitches. If Badenhop continues to be a solid contributor during the 2014 season, then he could be a solid reliever who will give the Red Sox plenty of great innings for many years, helping him to establish tenure with a big league team.