The regular season is five days away and still there are question marks surrounding the Boston Red Sox. While we were given answers to the catching situation and finally told who would make up the five man starting rotation, we are still left wondering who will make up the bullpen and how they will fair.
With news that Andrew Bailey could miss the start of the season, the focus turns to Mark Melancon and Alfredo Aceves. Check out my previous piece on how those two stack up as potential closers. That is not where the problem lies as I feel confident in either pitcher, or both for that matter as the eighth and ninth inning guys.
Rather it’s getting the game to those two with the lead still in tact that has me tossing and turning at night. Last year we witnessed one of the best one-two punch in the game and throw in Aceves as the seventh inning specialist and it was almost always lights out.
But this year looks different already. Gone is Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard is in the rotation, at least for now. Meaning Aceves will either close or setup providing Bailey starts the year on the DL.
That leaves the bullpen a little thin from my calculation.
According to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe the bullpen options include Vicente Padilla, Matt Albers, Scott Atchison, Aaron Cook, Ross Ohlendorf, Justin Thomas, Michael Bowden and Franklin Morales left to battle it out for a spot. If you have a concerned look on your face after reading that list you are not alone.
Franklin Morales will be used as a lefty specialist so he’s almost a lock given that Andrew Miller is likely to start the year on the DL.
Does Matt Albers bring a bout of confidence? Ummm, nope. How about Scott Atchison? Yeah right. Bobby V pegged Aaron Cook and Ross Ohlendorf as starters with Pawtucket so they’re out. Justin Thomas, well, he will be the perfect pitcher on those nights when nothing is going right, the game’s out of reach and some innings need to be eaten. In other words, he doesn’t restore much, if any faith.
Michael Bowden is an option as is Vicente Padilla but considering both would require room to be made on the 40-man roster, it brings up another question. Who goes off that roster?
Abraham predicts Padilla, Atchison, Bowden and Thomas will stick with Albers and Morales already having a spot. The bullpen would look like this: Aceves, Melancon, Albers, Padilla, Morales, Atchison, Bowden and Thomas. As I said in the beginning, there is plenty of uncertainty with that bullpen lineup. A healthy and productive Andrew Bailey could make a world of difference as Aceves could resume his former role of jack of all trades when it comes to the bullpen.
For now Daniel Bard’s presence in the bullpen becomes a much more intriguing option. Needless to say as does Roy Oswalt’s for the staring rotation.
It’s hard to believe that one year ago the bullpen was one of the most consistent parts of the Red Sox. Now it has the most question marks.