Reliever Craig Breslow was arguably one of the more instrumental members of the Boston Red Sox bullpen during their 2013 World Series championship run.
The left-handed reliever made 10 appearances during the postseason (on top of 61 appearances during the regular season), striking out six batters in seven innings of work. Breslow was primarily utilized as a matchup pitcher who would dominate opposing lefties with his fastball-curveball combination, which helped the Red Sox get out of major jams vs. the Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals in the playoffs.
However, entering the 2014 season, Breslow dealt with a shoulder strain that limited his participation in Spring Training workouts, as well as the ensuing Grapefruit League games. Ultimately, as his injury continued to bother him throughout the Spring, the Red Sox decided to place the 33-year-old reliever on the 15-day DL.
During his inactivity period, Breslow will try to rehabilitate his arm in extended Spring Training games in Fort Myers, aiming to return to the Red Sox bullpen by April 5.
In the meantime, the Red Sox will be missing a major component of their bullpen, leaving the team with left-handed relievers who lack the versatility that Breslow possesses. Notably, the team has Andrew Miller, Chris Capuano and Drake Britton as the lone left-handed arms that manager John Farrell could utilize in the bullpen. Miller will probably assume Breslow’s role as the late-inning left-handed bruiser, while Capuano and Britton will handle situations in earlier innings.
Until Breslow’s potential return on April 5, the Red Sox will have to handle the LHB-heavy Baltimore Orioles lineup on the road. Breslow, who held batters to a .228 average during the 2013 season, would have been heavily utilized against a lineup that features lefty sluggers Nick Markakis and Chris Davis. Miller, Capuano, and Britton will be tested against the Orioles’ lineup, which will truly test the waters to see the depth of the once lefty-laden Red Sox bullpen.
If the three left-handed relievers in the Red Sox bullpen can carry the load in the first five games of the season, then the depth of their left-handed relief corps will prove their worth, effectively bolstering the strength of the Red Sox bullpen during the 2014 season.