3-21-2011: The bullpen shakeout


On a team with few questions, the newly rebuilt bullpen has gotten the most attention this spring. Let’s take a look at what we’ve got and what we expect to happen with the roster.

The Locks

Those guaranteed a job include Jonathan Papelbon (closer), Daniel Bard (setup) and Bobby Jenks (setup). Having a top three like this really makes this a formidable bullpen, at least against righties. Dan Wheeler (bridge) will almost certainly be part of this bullpen, so that leaves only 2 spots, really. Should the Sox go with four starters to open the year, I could see them carrying one more reliever to begin.

The Other Contenders

What we really need is for one of the lefties to come out and dominate again. You would think that Hideki Okajima would be guaranteed a spot, being a lefty with experience pitching for the Sox, but actually, the equation is not that simple. Okajima’s contract has a clause in it that allows the Sox to send him to the minors, and with the way Dennys Reyes is throwing, I expect them to exercise it. Reyes is also out of options, which makes it almost certain that if it comes down to the two of them, it’ll be Reyes. Felix Doubront is just as good, if not better than these two, but the Sox will start him at Pawtucket, most likely as a starter, this season.

Of the remaining righties, you’ve got a ton of possibles, including Scott Atchison, Matt Albers, Alfredo Aceves, and Michael Bowden. Each of these guys has a different advantage. Atchison is the vet from last year, who is the most known quantity, while Albers has the out-of-options advantage. Aceves and Bowden can be swing men and give you multiple innings, with Aceves having better stuff and Bowden being the long-time Sox farmhand deserving of a shot. I’ve listed these guys in probable order here.

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3 Responses to 3-21-2011: The bullpen shakeout

  1. GO SOX 1208 says:

    Where is Wake?

  2. redsoxtalk says:

    I think Wakefield will start the season on the roster, but that the Sox plan to let him go at some point early this year. I’d be very surprised if he’s still around at the trading deadline. The only scenario in which I think he pitches much for us in 2011 is if one of our starters goes down with a long-term injury early on.

  3. redsoxtalk says:

    I was a little surprised to see Atchison sent down early on, but his minor league options makes him a logical cut. It’ll be Wakefield, Albers and Reyes, at least to begin the year.

    The Sox are trying to maintain reliever depth because they’ve received some trade interest already:
    http://goo.gl/YZgNi

    If things don’t work out with one of these guys, it’s like the Sox will designate and try to trade them.

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