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Is Tewksbury Native Oberg The Solution To Red Sox Bullpen Woes?

Jul 09, 2018 01:41PM ● By Bill Gilman

Colorado Rockies reliever Scott Oberg, of Tewksbury. (Photo courtesy of Rockies Twitter account.)

It's no secret that despite the Red Sox' success this season, the bullpen has been the team's Achilles' Heel.
Specifically, Manager Alex Cora could use another arm or two work the seventh and eighth innings ahead of "lights-out" closer Craig Kimbrel.
Power arm Joe Kelly has been inconsistent. He has a respectable 3.41 ERA and has fanned 39 batters in 37 innings, but he has also walked 17. Heath Hembree has pitched better of late, to drop his ERA to 3.58 with 49 strikeouts in 37.2 innings. But he has also given up 5 home runs already.
Matt Barnes (2.33 ERA), the de facto setup man for Kimbrel most of the season, is the best of the bunch, but Cora is careful not to overuse him. There had been hope that Tyler Thornburg, returning at last from injury, might help. But in two appearances he has looked shaky, to put it mildly.
With that in mind, Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski has been shopping for relievers to augment the bullpen in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline. The biggest fish in the pond, former All-Star Royals closer Kelvin Herrera, was landed in a trade by the Washington Nationals.
Herrera may have been unattainable for the Red Sox anyway, as Boston is low on attractive prospects to hang out as trade bait for team looking to rebuild. Rather, Boston needs to see what they can get for aging prospect Blake Swihart, slumping Jackie Bradley Jr. or perhaps Michael Chavis, who just returned to the Red Sox farm system after a 50-game suspension for PED use.
So who might fit the bill for the Red Sox? The hot rumor has week had the Sox looking to trade for 41-year old journeyman Fernando Rodney, who you might recognize from his histrionics on the hill and the "off-center" way he wears his cap.
But maybe the Red Sox might find their solution closer to home, in a manner of speaking.
Tewksbury native Scott Oberg recently made his return to the Colorado Rockies bullpen after a brief stint on the DL and is pitching the best baseball of his career. The right-hander has made five appearances since his return and has allowed just four hits and no earned runs.
For the season, Oberg has dropped his ERA to 3.04 and his WHIP to 1.141, both career bests.
In 21 appearances (23.2 innings), he has only struck out 17. But he hasn't allowed a home run all season, which is all the more amazing when you consider he plays half his games in the mile-high altitude of Denver, CO. As a staff, Rockies' pitchers have given up 107 dingers this season and have a team ERA of 4.79.
Would the Rockies be willing to part with Oberg? In truth, the odds are slim. Oberg makes just the Major League minimum of $555,000 this season and can't become a free agent until after the 2021 season. That said, he is eligible for salary arbitration after this season and is line for a substantial raise.
Add to that the fact that the Rockies have won 8 of 10 and are just 3.5 games out of first place in the NL West, making them more likely to be "buyers" than "sellers" at the trade deadline.
Still, Oberg is exactly the type of pitcher Cora needs in his 'pen. He's consistent, he doesn't walk anyone and he keeps the ball in the yard. That is especially important against the Yankees, a team that has put together "Murderers' Row II" and eats left-handers alive.
Realistically, chances of seeing Oberg in a Red uniform this season are remote. But if the circumstances fall into place and the right deal were put together, it's not an impossibility.

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