The starting rotation battle is starting to clear up; each day it looks more like it will be Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Alfredo Aceves, and Felix Doubront (but don’t discount Aaron Cook’s 1.93 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in 9 1/3 innings). As we whittle down the roster to 25 and inch closer and closer to Opening Day, the Red Sox bullpen begins to take shape as well, though some pitchers are more concerning than others.
The good news – Scott Atchison
While it’s wrong to try and compare Atchison to Tim Wakefield, the 36-year-old righty can admirably fill the Tim Wakefield role of super-utility pitcher – starter, middle relief, long relief, setup, closer, mop-up. And in 10 innings of work in seven appearances, Atchison has a 1.30 WHIP and a decent 3.60 ERA. The .286 opponents’ batting average has to come down substantially, though.
The bad news – Andrew Bailey
So much for trying to replace Jonathan Papelbon, at least in the early stages. In six innings of work he’s allowed three runs, two walks and seven hits while striking out seven. Sounds okay for a starter, but not for a closer.
The good news – Michael Bowden
Bowden’s been a tad erratic in his brief career with the Sox, but you wouldn’t know it from his spring numbers – two saves, a 2.00 ERA, and seven strikeouts in nine innings of work.
The bad news – Mark Melancon
Again with the closers. Melancon’s had more work than Bailey this spring and hasn’t fared much better. In seven appearances he’s pitched 7 1/3 innings with an ERA of 6.14 and a WHIP of 1.36.
The good news – Vicente Padilla
Padilla initially was reluctant to take a bullpen role, but in five appearances out of the bullpen, he’s gone 11 innings, struck out nine, and allowed just one walk. The 4.09 ERA may raise some eyebrows, however.
The bad news – Matt Albers
Hey, hey, hey! It’s Maaatt Albers! And it’s also seven hits and three walks in just 5 2/3 innings, and an opponents’ batting average of .318. Albers was a consistent setup man where Bobby Jenks wasn’t last year, and with no Jenks for the foreseeable future, he’ll have to find his form again soon.
The late-inning relievers aren’t living up to their expectations just yet, but the good news is that it’s only March.
But the best news of all? Only a week until Opening Day.