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Elsa/Getty ImagesA former major league pitcher watched Games 1 and 2 and came away with one overwhelming thought about the Los Angeles Dodgers' chance at making this World Series interesting."They have to get lucky and win a game early Kris Bryant Jersey ," the former pitcher said Thursday. "It's hard for them to play from behind, because of a lot of their hitters can't catch up to the Red Sox bullpen."In other words, forget everything you thought you knew when October began. Forget some of what you thought you knew when this week began.The bullpen isn't the fatal flaw in the formula that the Red Sox used to win 108 games. No, the reworked bullpen is the strength that has the Sox on the way to winning the four games that matter most鈥攖he ones that could bring them another World Series title.If this is a race, you could say the Red Sox are at two wins and the Dodgers haven't left the starting blocks. Or you could say that the Red Sox are moving at 100 mph and the Dodgers are caught in an L.A. traffic jam.Or you could just look at these numbers: So far in these playoffs, according to research byBaseball Savant, Cody Bellinger (0-for-6), Yasiel Puig (0-for-5), Manny Machado (0-for-4), Matt Kemp (0-for-4), Kike Hernandez (0-for-4), Yasmani Grandal (0-for-3) and David Freese (0-for-1) are a combined 0-for-27 when an at-bat ends with a pitch at 97 mph or faster. Add in Justin Turner (1-for-6) and Max Muncy (1-for-5), and you've got nine Dodgers hitters who are a combined 2-for-38 this month when facing high velocity.Before you cry "small sample size," it's not like this is just an October issue. Including the regular season and playoffs, Bellinger is 4-for-28 when facing 97 and above. Turner is 4-for-21, and Chris Taylor is 1-for-14.Taylor, Grandal, Hernandez , Bellinger, Turner, Joc Pederson and Brian Dozier have batted a combined .137 against 97 and above, since the start of the 2018 season. The overall major league average this season was .224.The Dodgers overcame some hard-throwing relievers to beat the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers, but the Red Sox are throwing heat like they haven't seen (or hit). According to Baseball Savant, which uses numbers from's Statcast, three of the top six pitchers ranked by average fastball velocity in the 2018 playoffs are Red Sox right-handers Nathan Eovaldi (98.9 mph), Joe Kelly (98.9) and Craig Kimbrel (97.9).You want triple digits? Baseball Savantsays there have been 46 pitches thrown at 100 mph or higher this month. Eovaldi has thrown 22 of them. Kelly has thrown nine. And while Kimbrel hasn't hit 100 this October, he has thrown seven pitches clocked at 99 mph (and he topped 100 mph twice in September).Is it any surprise that, through two games, those three have retired all 18 Dodgers they've faced?Nathan EovaldiElsa/Getty ImagesPerhaps the bigger question is why so few of us warned you this was coming, and why so many of us鈥擨 plead guilty鈥攚ondered why Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski didn't do more to fix such an obvious flaw in his otherwise great team.The truth is Dombrowski and his front office did try very hard to trade for bullpen help. According to Bleacher Report sources, the Sox nearly completed a July deadline deal with the Washington Nationals for reliever Kelvin Herrera before the Nationals decided against a sell-off (and before Herrera tore a ligament in his left foot in August). Even as Dombrowski was strengthening other parts of his team by dealing for a second baseman (Ian Kinsler), a first baseman (Steve Pearce) and a starting pitcher (Eovaldi), the Red Sox looked everywhere for a reliever who would be a clear improvement on what they already had.They didn't find one. Or maybe they did.Acquiring Eovaldi from the Tampa Bay Rays on July 25 gave the Red Sox more depth in their rotation. It allowed manager Alex Cora the leeway to use starter Rick Porcello for key relief appearances against the New York Yankees and Houston Astros. It allowed Cora to use Eovaldi for four key outs in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series against the Astros.Eovaldi pitched the eighth inning in Games 1 and 2 against the Dodgers, the team that drafted him in 2008 and brought him to the big leagues in 2011, only to trade him to the Miami Marlins a year later. Even though he's still listed as the tentative Game 4 starter, Cora won't rule out using Eovaldi in relief again in Game 3 Friday night and choosing someone else for Game 4."You never know ," Cora said in his postgame press conference Wednesday. "Like I've been saying all along, we're all-in every day. If we feel there's a chance to close the door with them, we'll use him. The way it's mapped out, it's Rick in Game 3 and maybe Nate Game 4. But Nate might come in in the eighth again. If we have a chance to be up [three games to none] with him on the mound and Craig [Kimbrel], we'll do it. And then we'll figure out Game 4."Cora went on to talk about how you do things differently in the playoffs than you would from April through September, and that Eovaldi out of the pen is part of that."He's been amazing for us," Cora said.Whether it was fixing a pitch-tipping flaw or simply regaining confidence, Craig Kimbrel again looked like a lights-out closer in Games 1 and 2.Maddie Meyer/Getty ImagesHe has been amazing, but it wouldn't have mattered if the rest of the bullpen hadn't come together. Even as the Red Sox won night after night in the regular season, Cora had struggled to figure out who he trusted in front of Kimbrel at the end of games. At the end of September, Kelly seemed somewhat out of favor, with Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier getting bigger innings.Barnes and Brasier have continued to pitch, but Kelly has become more and more important as October has gone on. After pitching just once in four games against the Yankees, he has appeared in five of the last seven games the Red Sox have played, usually with the lead on the line."He's been lights-out," Cora said. "Breaking balls for strikes, good fastball, good changeup. Presence on the mound. I'm happy for him. At one point he went from being the guy in the seventh Joe Maddon Jersey , eighth inning to just a guy in the bullpen. And now he's back to the equation. When Joey is throwing strikes with all his pitches, he might be one of the toughest relievers in the big leagues because his stuff is that good."No one has ever questioned Kimbrel's stuff, but he gave up runs in each of his first four appearances this postseason. He couldn't consistently throw strikes, and when he did, they were too often low strikes rather than the up-in-the-zone fastballs that normally eat hitters alive.It's been widely reported that former Red Sox (and Dodgers) closer Eric Gagne noticed Kimbrel was tipping his pitches and that he and the Sox corrected it before Game 5 of the ALCS. That may well have made the difference, or it may be that correcting an apparent flaw gave Kimbrel the confidence he'd been lacking earlier in the month.The Dodgers looked like a team craving heat, but not in the form of 100 mph fastballs.Rob Carr/Getty ImagesEither way, the Kimbrel who appeared against the Dodgers looked like a different guy than the one who struggled against the Yankees and Astros. His body language was again that of a closer who didn't plan to give you a chance, rather than one who was just hoping to get through an inning.Body language tells a lot. In the cold at Fenway Park, every view of the Dodger dugout showed a bunch of guys who looked like they just wanted to go somewhere warm, while every look at the Red Sox showed a team that didn't mind if the game went on forever.A forecast for game time Friday in Los Angeles says it will be 77 degrees, which should make the Dodgers feel more comfortable.Unfortunately for them, the forecast for the late innings will be the same as it was for Games 1 and 2: 100 mph, blowing right by them. They'd better figure out a way to deal with it, or they won't need to worry about the temperature back in Boston for a Game 6.Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.Follow Danny on Twitter and talk baseball. DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Tigers are young, inexpensive and unlikely to be much of a threat in the AL Central.For at least a couple more years, general manager Al Avila doesn’t plan to jolt the roster with any big-money free agents. Instead, he and his front office are patiently waiting for their minor leaguers to develop into big league contributors.A season after dropping 98 games for the second consecutive year , the club believes its future is beginning to take form.“I can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Avila told reporters Saturday at TigerFest.It just won’t have much effect at Comerica Park this summer.Led by last year’s No. 1 overall draft pick, right-hander Casey Mize, the farm system is certainly improved, but most of its top players aren’t likely to see Detroit until 2020 at the earliest.While that group develops, a fifth consecutive losing season seems likely. Before the slump, the Tigers won the AL Central four times in a row and reached the World Series in 2012 for the second time in seven years.Detroit at least expects to have a healthy Miguel Cabrera to open the season. The two-time MVP was limited to 38 games last year due to biceps surgery. The team is unsure if Cabrera will spend more time at first base or designated hitter, but his presence should at least give fans a reason to tune in.“A lot of people are counting us out by looking at our team and roster,” outfielder JaCoby Jones said. “Last year, we didn’t have one of the best hitters of all-time on our team. He was hurt. But having Miggy back, being healthy that helps us out tremendously.”The team’s only other lineup mainstay might not be around for long. Detroit has been trying to trade Nicholas Castellanos, but Avila has been unable to find a taker for the outfielder who hit .298 with 23 homers last year. Castellanos has one year left before becoming eligible for free agency and will earn nearly $10 million this season.Castellanos did not attend TigerFest due to a family commitment. With how the trade market is shaking out, Avila expects Castellanos to report to spring training with Detroit next month. That’s just fine with manager Ron Gardenhire.“He’s a pretty good baseball player,” Gardenhire said. “I hope he stays with us for a long, long time.”Among the more intriguing players in camp this year will be 26-year-old Kaleb Cowart. Detroit plans to convert the former Angels third baseman into a right-handed pitcher after he hit .177 over parts of the previous four seasons. Cowart was drafted No. 18 overall by the Angels in 2010 out of high school.“Our scouts saw him as an amateur and they tell me was a legitimate pitching prospect,” Avila said. “He was such a good athlete that obviously you give him the opportunity to play a position and you see if he can hit. That has not gone as well. In getting him, we felt that we have a possibility of a two-way guy. We’re going to put him on the mound and see if he can recapture what our guys saw when he was drafted.”