If there is one thing the Boston Red Sox have right now, it is a plethora of pitchers vying for a few roster spots. One of those guys is last night’s starter, Alfredo Aceves. Besides being the 1st player alphabetically on the roster, Aceves brings 3 years of major league experience to the table, all with the New York Yankees. He appeared in 10 games last season, striking out 2 in 12 innings pitched (10 appearances) and held a solid 3.00 era. He is an intriguing pitcher who could provide depth in the bullpen and can be an innings monster if he remains healthy. The Red Sox are thinking that maybe they can stretch him out a bit for longer outings, but after what we have seen recently, a few innings max in the bullpen seems to be the best fit.
In his last 4 outings this Spring, Aceves has 2 starts. He has a tendency to start games strong, with a few excellent innings, only to falter in the 3rd inning. His stuff seems to fit extremely well in the bullpen, with his ability to shut down a team for an inning or two and bridge the gap to the 8th and 9th innings. With the back-end of the rotation set, the Sox are still searching for a lefty-specialist and another righty or lefty to fill in the middle of the ‘pen, so Aceves is certainly an option the Red Sox will give serious consideration. His major-league AL East experience is a plus, especially when most of the pitchers competing for those spots are virtually unproven in the majors.
The overall make-up of the bullpen is interesting this season, because as of Tim Wakefield. He will have to occupy a middle-long relief slot, despite rumors that he is on the trading block. The likelihood the Sox can deal him before the season begins is small, and the Red Sox are not likely to just waive the veteran to clear space, so he will occupy a slot for now. The Sox still need to pad their middle-relief, so they are looking for guys that don’t need a lot of development. Guys like Andrew Miller are competing for the role, but the Sox want to see them get more consistent playing time in AAA Pawtucket, opening the door for slightly older and more mature arms like Aceves. That’s a great plan, but as we all know, injuries will happened and spots will open up, likely before we are ready.
For now, it is hard to tell who will begin the season in the final ‘pen slots, but Aceves is surely proving his worth, especially with his strong performance against the New York Yankees last night. The bullpen battle is certainly something to watch closely over the next few weeks.