Despite rough outings, to say the least, in each of their three games against the Detroit Tigers, the Boston Red Sox pitching staff has some positives going for it, and some help that could come sooner than expected.
Aaron Cook, who had a 0.77 WHIP and sub-2.00 ERA in spring training, could be called up from triple-A Pawtucket after a few starts. One idea discussed on WEEI in Boston is to have Cook, who went 3-10 with a 6.03 ERA in just 17 starts with the Colorado Rockies in 2011, ease his way back into a more competitive condition with the PawSox and then call him up to replace Daniel Bard in the starting rotation. Bard could then move to the closer’s role that is currently occupied by Alfredo Aceves. That role may be yanked from Aceves before that time, however, after it took him only seven pitches to squander a three-run ninth-inning lead in Sunday’s game.
Cook, 33, had his best season in 2008 with the Rockies, going a combined 16-9 with a 3.96 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP in 211 1/3 innings. He also made the National League All-Star team that year.
Aside from the meltdowns of Aceves and Mark Melancon and the sloppy efforts of Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett, there have been some signs of life from other current Red Sox pitchers. Vicente Padilla kept the Tigers offense in check in his 4 1/3 innings of work in the Tigers series, striking out four and allowing only three hits. He also may be in line for a stint as a starter if Bard heads back to the bullpen. Franklin Morales has been another sight for sore eyes in the bullpen, striking out three and allowing just one hit in 2 2/3 innings in two games.
It also remains to be seen how well Bard and lefty Felix Doubront will perform in their first starts of the season. No matter what, the Red Sox need to quiet the grumbles about their pitching staff, whether it’s Cook, Bard, and Doubront providing insurance at the end of the rotation, or Beckett and Buchholz finding their form. Whatever happens, Red Sox fans are hoping it happens soon. Because after Aceves and Melancon let them down twice in three games, they’re going to be clamoring for Bard to be the closer any second now.