Saturday, August 31, 2013
Sox could use another righty reliever
By Gordon Edes
BOSTON -- The Red Sox could use another right-handed arm in a bullpen that has performed significantly better in the season’s second half, going 8-4 with 7 saves and posting a 2.42 ERA in 36 games after going 17-13 with 20 saves and a 4.10 ERA in 95 games before the All-Star break.
Although none of them have an arm to rival that of the injured Andrew Miller, the Sox are well fortified with four left-handers in the pen, Franklin Morales coming out after a 10-day layoff and retiring Adam Dunn on an infield roller in Friday night’s 4-3 win over the White Sox. But with Koji Uehara transitioning from unhittable setup man to unhittable closer, the Sox could probably use another right-hander to join Junichi Tazawa and rookie Brandon Workman, although lefty Craig Breslow's reverse splits (.214, 1 HR in 98 ABs vs. right-handers) show that he is a very palatable alternative.
Manager John Farrell also suggested that if the Sox do anything before Saturday night’s playoff roster waiver deadline, it would be to add a right-handed reliever, although they may already have a better alternative in-house than anything general manager Ben Cherington could find combing the waiver wire.
With Clay Buchholz shooting for a Sept. 10 return to the Sox, Friday night’s winner, Ryan Dempster, is a candidate to be moved to the pen. A lot can happen in 10 days, of course, which is why Dempster calmly noted "we’ll cross that bridge when we get there" when asked about a possible shift to the pen.
But Dempster has considerable experience as a reliever, having pitched out of the pen in four seasons with the Cubs, the last three (2005-2007) as closer in which he saved 87 games.
Tazawa’s stuff has not been as dominant as it was last season, but while he has hit a recent bump, blowing a save in San Francisco last week, giving up a run in L.A. last Saturday, and allowing an inherited run to score when he gave up a triple to Alejandro De Aza in the seventh inning Friday, the overall results are still there. He has struck out 12 in 13 2/3 innings this month while issuing just one walk, which was intentional, and has held opposing batters to a .108 average (7 for 65) with runners in scoring position. With two outs and RISP, that number is .086 (3 for 35).
Still, Dempster could give Farrell another experienced option in the seventh and eighth innings.