Brad Boxberger

Brad Boxberger was great in 2014, posting a 2.37 ERA in a breakout season. He hasn’t been great this season at times, especially recently, and he is blaming his struggles on how much he has been used.

While Boxberger doesn’t call out manager Kevin Cash by name, he might as well. In an interview with Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Boxberger doesn’t sound happy.

“[My struggles] could all be attributed to the use of me,” Boxberger told Topkin. “There’s no set ‘closer’ here, but I don’t know of another team that doesn’t call it a ‘closer’ and has 34 saves. So all of the early use in non-closing situations has probably put a toll onto the recent outings, I guess you can say … You just look at other closers around the league that have even 25-plus saves, and I can probably guarantee none of them have thrown in the seventh inning this year and not many have probably thrown multiple games tied on the road and all that. So those innings add up and those appearances add up. And it is what it is this year.”

What is curious is that Boxberger is probably not going to be used much more this year than he was last year.

  • 2014 innings pitched: 64.2
  • 2015 innings pitched: 56.2

The issue is even more perplexing if we look at how Boxberger has been used this year, compared to last season. Boxberger was used all over the place last year and much less so this year, and yet, last year it wasn’t a problem.

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So then what is the real issue? Is it a sense of entitlement, that Boxberger feels he is too good to be used in non-save situations? Maybe. But there is also the money issue.

Boxberger is going to hit his first big pay day after the 2016 season when he will be arbitration-eligible for the first time and he will make more money as a “closer” than he will as a “reliever who occasionally closes games.”

There is also the injury issue and making sure he stays healthy for that pay day, a point discussed by Topkin.

“Boxberger went on to suggest there are further ramifications of ‘the use in general,’ noting, without naming names, injuries to current Rays relievers and that he has heard of pitchers who left the Rays and were struggling elsewhere or even had to have surgeries.”

Boxberger is represented by Scott Boras and it is possible that the super-agent is pushing the buttons here, urging Boxberger to be more vocal. But this is an unsual situation not often seen with the Rays, a player publicly voicing displeasure with something, anything (other than the attendance of course). So it will be interesting to see how this develops.

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25 Comments

  1. Michael says:

    I read that this morning and was disgusted. What a sad, transparent attempt to rationalize his own failings. He's been maybe our 5th best reliever since the All-Star Break. The main thing I blame Cash for is continuing to run his sorry ass out there when it's obvious he doesn't have it anymore and will likely continue to blow games.

    And Boxburger only got a shot at save opportunities because McGee started the year on the DL. We would have been way better off if Cash named McGee the closer and Boxburger a set-up guy shortly after McGee returned.

    Boxburger has almost singlehandedly ruined any chance at the playoffs or at least a respectable .500 season for this team. And he blames usage earlier in the year as the reason he gets lit up like a Christmas tree now? Pathetic.

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    • Scot Douglas says:

      I'm not that upset with Brad Boxberger. He has a point. Kevin Cash let Colome face one batter in the bottom of the eighth on Monday night. Why did he put Boxberger in? Also, you can't blame the pitching staff when over 70 men come to the plate in the previous 22 innings and score 1 run. His velocity is down. His confidence is down and he doesn't have any trick pitches to keep hitters off guard. Plus, he's a young guy trying to figure it out why the success he had is now elusive. The Rays are young both in terms of players and now a rookie manager. You can tell by the fact that they have lost all the extra inning games lately that they are struggling. They are going nowhere except home after the season. It's time to sit down in the clubhouse and have a beer or ten with these guys and loosen them up.

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  2. Rob says:

    Shelve him for the rest of the season and let Colome close games. This team certainly doesn't need malcontents on top of everything else.

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  3. Chris D says:

    Cork, question for you here is there a way you can plot ERA (or FIP) by game in 2014 and 2015? As you noted his usage is about the same, but did he also struggle at the end of last year?

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    • Starmand says:

      See, Game logs- http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=boxbebr01&t=p&year=2015

      I don't particularly blame Boxberger. "Overuse" seems a common theme this week. So far, J. Kelly and Tazawa have been shut down. And Greg Holland is on his way.

      Even though BB has thrown only 56.2 innings this year, he has appeared in 62 games. It is known that if you warm up for a chance at one or two hitters, it will take a toll. That's why at times you see a reliever warming up, is not called in the game and then sits down for the rest of the game.

      Beyond that, I blame the twice-only-through-the-lineup experiment. It was easy to see that if that kept up, by the end of the season the bullpen would not be in the best shape. The proverbial "I told you so". Also, the reason given why Colome is not closing is that the Rays don't want to put too much on his plate. I heard, so as not to diminish his confidence. Goose and gander both start with a "gee".

      If you allow computers to determine bullpen usage, at times you get the blue screen of death. http://i.imgur.com/KZTDh1d.gif

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      • Starmand says:

        Btw, add BB to the list of those who will not get a Christmas card this year...

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      • Michael says:

        He's not really talking about overuse, though. He even made the point himself that a lot of other pitchers have made just as many appearances and pitched as many innings as he has. He's saying he's pitching like crap now because even though he was the team's closer he was forced to pitch in situations other than no outs in the bottom-of-the-ninth with a lead and no runners on.

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      • Michael says:

        For example: "You can have the conversation of well, he wasn't the closer, but he was. And then if he was on a regular team that used like a real closer, then he wouldn't have been put in half of those situations."

        And "You just look at other closers around the league that have even 25-plus saves, and I can probably guarantee none of them have thrown in the seventh inning this year and not many have probably thrown multiple games tied on the road and all that."

        So because he had to pitch a tie game on the road in May that wasn't a save siuation that's causing him to get lit up in August and September? Give me a break.

        What a turd.

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    • Drew S says:

      Yes. http://bit.ly/1Nxdk82

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  4. Gus says:

    Amazing comments, since he was gifted the closer job, got picked for the All-Star team and was in line to make some nice arbitration money when he crapped the bed all over himself after a nice start. And then Cash has stuck with him as closer FAR LONGER than any rational person would have.

    The simple fact is that the Rays play more close games than anybody else, have few blowout wins, have no starters that go deep at all anymore (Shields and Price, you are missed) so the front end of the bullpen is always busy and counted on.

    What he should have said was: the team dumping a little salary and getting rid of Jepsen was the death of us, particularly the front-line bullpen guys. Because that happens to be very true.

    Scott Boras is a cancer in the Rays clubhouse, hates the City and the franchise, and will likely end Boxberger's Rays career (which is probably what he wants). A shame. Had he been used as the 8th inning guy (where he settled at the end of last season) to McGee's closer, he might have fared better.

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  5. Greg says:

    I imagine it's Boras behind the scenes pulling the strings but who knows. No matter, it's still a gutless thing for Boxberger to say. Cash tried pulling starters early as an experiment. Didn't really work, but there were times when Odorizzi or Ramirez could have been pulled after 5 innings and it would have been better than leaving them in for a rough 6th inning. As a manager, you're always second-guessed...it just sucks when it's your own players doing the complaining. I like Cash and support him fully. He's going to be a great manager.

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  6. Brent says:

    The Rays make him into an All-Star & he's complaining?!

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  7. Paco says:

    I wonder if he has any idea how whiney he sounds? He should probably be the first guy they move this offseason.

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  8. Pat says:

    Don't you just hate it when facts get in the way of a really good complaint? Less innings this year, the vast majority in the 9th inning. Last year working in many earlier than closer innings. Methinks BB needs some cheese to go with that whine! Very unsportsmanlike and ungrateful sounding. Paving the way for himself to move elsewhere. He needs to grow up.

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  9. jim says:

    Taking a complete swipe at Hickey and FO about perceived overuse of former pitchers is a sure way to get traded. I can't fault Hickey for ANYTHING with the success he's had with pitchers in the past. I could care less what happens to them once their gone from the Rays.

    With the injuries to our starters this year, we had to try something. the 3rd time thru the lineup was a direct result of that. How many save situations were set up due to strong performances from our set up guys in the 7th and 8th? Brads success and all star appearance was caused by this exact formula. Yet when he breaks down and can't keep up the pace, then all of a sudden he doesn't like it. boofuckinghoo. it's a team sport.

    Greatly limit his innings for the rest of the season, Trade his malcontent ass in the offseason and hope you get what you can. He’ll be used early as a closer somewhere else, and then be demoted to set up guy before he reaches his contract. HE'LL NEVER SNIFF AN ALL STAR GAME AGAIN. i'm so fucking sorry that our starters, and bullpen have been stretched to the max, and his prima donna ass thinks that his only job is to come in and cherry pick a save.

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  10. Starmand says:

    I have the feeling that Boxberger is not going to be invited this year to the Rays Thanksgiving dinner.

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  11. Dave L says:

    Lets put this in further perspective

    Boxy pitched in 62 games.

    On April 22 he pitched a clean 7th and struck out the side and contributed to a win.

    On June 11 he came in a fresh 7th got 1 out 1 hit then was pulled with the game tied in a losing effort. His runner never scored.

    Thats the sum total of his 7th inning work which apparently gave him PSTD which manifested itself in August??

    Even his 8th inning work happened on 5 occasions where he gave up a total of 2 earned runs. In his 7 pre 9th stints the rays were 5-2 and we even won 1 of the games where he gave up the 1 run so he only contributed to 1 loss really.

    This is just him and his agent deciding he wants out.

    Spoiled whiny closers like him and R Soriano are really just saying "I only want to pitch when we are winning and thus outplaying the other team that day and by the way I dont want to inherit any baserunners."

    Trading a few low leverage Rays with a 3 run lead "save" opportunities for a few high leverage (usually tied) earlier in the game appearences is smart managing and the Rays went 5-2 in those games so IT WORKED.

    Any smart agent worth his salt would be able to point that out to any GM dumb enough not to know that already

    He has good trade value. MLB GM's arent as myopic as some fans and know all closers blow saves. They are going to base it on his stuff which is excellent.

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  12. Starmand says:

    I wonder if the Rays had planned a BB giveaway for next year?

    Probably a bobblehead, or a replica of his glove, or perhaps a BB bullpen towel.

    HOLD THE PRESSES!

    From the looks of it, it might just be a BB voodoo doll, complete with pins. http://i562.photobucket.com/albums/ss61/ragtoy/voodoo-dolls-wallpaper.jpg

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  13. Dave L says:

    By the way Rays fans the Boxberger dustup is going to be a topic on MLB Now on MLB network today just started 4pm.

    Should be interesting if he has any support. Not likely on that show.

    Tune in!

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    • Starmand says:

      Boxberger has a 2.68 ERA in save situations and a 6.68 ERA at all other times.

      Very good article here, http://rayscoloredglasses.com/2015/09/16/tampa-bay-rays-has-brad-boxberger-been-used-correctly/

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      • Dave L says:

        this is an example of exactly when statistics are the held beneath the esteem of lies and damnable lies. RCG has a habit of that and its hard to sift through the paralysis of over analysis,

        Earned run average is runs per 9 innings. His non save innings total about 10. The sample size is so microscopic that ERA cannot begin to tell you anything.

        But it also simply explains what I have preached here over and over.

        The job of the guy who must stop the bleeding in a tie game with base runners is much more difficult than the "closer" who is given a clean slate has the lead and just must simply get 3 outs before 1 to 3 or more runs cross the plate.

        David Egberts piece is written from a perspective of a man who quite posssibly never watched any of the 7th and 8th inning games and what happened.

        I repeat, the Rays were 5-2 in those games which were on the whole virtual ties. For a sub .500 team thats good. Box gave up 1 run twice and we only lost 1 of the two in which he gave up a run.

        Forget ERA--- go examine the games and the circumstances.

        His use was a spectacular success.

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        • Starmand says:

          His complaint arose out of frustration. Add to the mix the possible spicing-up of the situation by the Boras camp and there you have the recipe.

          He sees himself as a failure rather than a spectacular success. Point made with CC's post below.

          But, yes, he has trade value. Probably the phones are ringing right now.

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  14. CC says:

    Top 20 closers:
    Highest ERA= Box
    Lowest save% = Box
    Blown Saves = Box
    Worst WHIP = Box
    Highest Batting Average = Box

    What happened to the athlete who say, I will do whatever they want me to do to win?

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  15. FortMyersDave says:

    I will have to say that the night that the Brad Boxberger Express went off of the rails was when cash made him intentionally walk 2 guys in that game @ Chicago with a guy on 3rd and one out and Boxberger complained vovcally about it and of course he walked in the winning run on 5 pitches.... A few games later Cash does the absolute opposite in an extra inning game in Houston by forcing another reliever to pitch to Correa with an open base though no one else on the Houston roster could even see the ball let alone hit it.... I have to blame Cash for blowing Boxey's confidence.... Should he have called out his manager? No way, but Cash has made a lot of mistakes concerning the use of the bullpen that makes everyone wonder if he is trying to win or lose games! I wonder what Jim Hickey feels about this?

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  16. Andy Cordero says:

    Boxberger has a lot of nerve!! He was a Nobody til last year when the Rays paired him up w/Jake McGee & together they were a Force!! Then this year the team gives him a big shot after McGee's injury & he becomes an All Star. And he repays their faith in him with this BS?? Apparently, his rapid rise has gone straight to his big head, as revealed by his recent entitlement fueled tirade!!

    Upon close scrutiny, 8 of his 10 losses have come when he entered a TIED game. But his rationale of overuse doesn't hold water b/c this trend began on April 10th!! In fact, 5 of these 8 losses were before the All Star break!!! His statement implies his belief he should not be used in non-save opportunities. Clearly, this early sense of entitlement has rendered him ineffective when used otherwise, especially in tie games!! In my opinion, 80% of Brad's double digit losses are a result of his pi$$ poor attitude he takes into TIED games, not overuse!! Additionally, he's pitched nearly 5 fewer innings than last year w/both a 60% INCREASE in BBs & a 31% DECEASE in Ks!!!

    Before noticing his trend when entering tied games, & reading the drivel he spouted to the Times' Marc Tompkins on 9/16/15, I was a Boxy Fan! Not so much anymore!!! Even tho he can be retained cheaply next year, I don't believe his negative, entitled attitude (& agent!) are worth it!!!

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