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The Boston Red Sox have a bullpen issue. That much is not up for debate, as the unit has collectively been the weakest part of the roster. With so much uncertainty lining the depth chart, many are looking to the minors for potential solutions. Durbin Feltman, the Red Sox’ top pure relief prospect, has some ugly season numbers through 16 appearances. However, a deeper look at his game logs shows that the hard-throwing righty is saving his season and could be ready for a major league role sooner rather than later.
So far on the short season, Feltman has an atrocious 6.38 ERA and a 5.54 FIP. He’s striking out an encouraging 9.33 batters per nine innings but is walking 6.87 batters per nine. This isn’t great, and, on the surface, implies Feltman is having a rough season. However, these season-long statistics don’t tell the whole story with Feltman.
Feltman’s total numbers are artificially inflated by two atrocious appearances in which he allowed a combined eight runs in two innings of work. These outings happen in consecutive appearances, but the former third-round pick has bounced back since those ugly games.
Feltman has pitched 9.1 innings since the second of his four-run outings. During those seven outings, Feltman has pitched to the of a 1.93 ERA and a 4.27 FIP. He’s struck out nine batters while walking five, and four of those walks came in one game. When taking out that games, Feltman’s FIP drops down to 2.95.
The biggest reason for Feltman’s ugly start comes down to a small sample. The righty has thrown just 18.1 innings this year, with most of said outings coming in atrocious weather conditions. As someone who lives in Portland, April and the majority of May have been a nightmare to live through. The weather, which normally isn’t that great, has been colder and rainier than normal. This obviously affects the guys playing the game, and Feltman’s numbers have been disproportionally skewed due to the unfavorable conditions. Feltman is far from the only AA prospect to struggle in April, as it’s actually a fairly common occurrence. Those who live in Maine and follow the minors know not to read too much in April stat lines.
There’s every reason to believe that Feltman’s recent improvements should continue moving forward. The righty joined the Red Sox as one of the most pro-ready players in the MLB Draft and had a fantastic 2018 campaign. The righty joined the Low-A Lowell Spinners midway through the minor league season and made it all the way up to Salem in just a few months. Between the three Single-A levels, Feltman recorded a combined 1.93 ERA and a 1.10 FIP in 23.1 innings of work.