The Boston Red Sox are playing some of their best baseball that they have all season long and look to be heading into the postseason and potentially thriving there. They are running on all cylinders at the moment and can be considered to be a very dangerous team. However, they do have one glaring weakness.
They have the best closer in baseball, Koji Uehara, but what they don’t have is a solid setup man to get the ball to Uehara. This is a weakness that Boston needs to figure out and get settled before the playoffs start.
Junichi Tazawa has had that role all season, but the workload has been hard on him physically. This is a player that had Tommy John surgery in 2010. He has given up some huge home runs and has been inconsistent for much of the stretch run. During the postseason, games get closer, the pitching is better and any lead you get needs to be held on for dear life. Boston can’t afford to have their main setup reliever still struggling.
John Farrell has tried a few other options. Brandon Workman has the stuff and the poise, but he is also a rookie and has struggled himself in high-leverage situations. Rubby De La Rosa also has electric pitches, but he appears inconsistent. Franklin Morales has been hurt for parts of the season. Craig Breslow has been great all season, but Farrell seems to like to use him in the seventh inning.
You know, it is a shame that Alfredo Aceves had to act up like he apparently did, because he would have been a great choice to be a part of the bullpen mix. He is a great talent and has a rubber arm which is very important in October. What Farrell might be thinking is to clinch the division as soon as possible and then give a guy like Tazawa as much rest as possible until the division series starts.
The same thinking happened in 2007 with Hideki Okajima, and that worked extremely well. He was well rested when October rolled around. Here’s to hoping that other teams don’t exploit Boston’s biggest weakness.