Better Play and Bullpen Ideas

After starting the year 2-10, the Red Sox have gone 25-12 and now stand 5 games over .500 at 27-22.

The reason for the turnaround is simple, just about everyone is playing better. Yes, I know, a very complicated answer.

Through May 11, the Red Sox had posted the following offensive line: .256/.333/.400/.733. Well, just 2 weeks later, they have a .267/.343/.424/.767 line. Pretty good improvement in a short period of time. The pitching has improved as well: 4.40/1.34 on May 11 and now a 4.08/1.31.

A few bullpen implosions notwithstanding, this team is playing very well.

During this stretch, there has been a ton of roster turnover:

Josh Reddick – promoted.
Darnell McDonald – DL.
Hideki Okajima – DFA, cleared waivers and outrighted to Pawtucket.
Drew Sutton promoted.
Daniel Nava DFA’d to clear room for Sutton on the 40-man.
Marco Scutaro shelved on the DL.
Jose Iglasias promoted and subsequently sent back down.
Kevin Millwood (our savior) signed to a minor league deal.
Franklin Morales received in a trade.
Michael Bowden called up and subsequently sent back down.
Scott Atchison promoted.
Dan Wheeler activated off DL.
Daisuke Matsuzaka to the DL.

Wow, that’s a bunch of moves.

I’m obviously happy with the way the team has performed but there are a few issue to address:

The bullpen hasn’t worked they it was supposed to. Daniel Bard has not been what I’d expected what with 4 losses already, Dan Wheeler has been forgettable. Bobby Jenks has been horrid but maybe injuries are the reason.

On the other hand, Matt Albers has been great (his last start the exception) as has Jonathan Papelbon (performing like 2007) and recently promoted Rich Hill has been fantastic, providing some key innings of relief.

Going into the season, it was expected that Jenks would pitch the 7th, Bard the 8th and Papelbon the 9th. Well, when 2/3 of that equation are underperforming/hurt, you need a fallback. I have been frustrated with Terry Francona’s insistance on pitching Bard as much as he has. Bard has appeared in 24 of 49 games and for a younger, extreme fastball pitcher, this is a recipe for Tommy John surgery. Time to back off Bard and figure out other options. If Dan Wheeler can’t handle it, try Atchison, if Atchison can’t hack it, use Albers more in the 8th. Mix and match and try to get more than 1 guy able to handle 8th inning duties.

Bullpens are always a chemisty experiment to be sure, but if you have 6 guys in the pen, use them all, otherwise find someone else you trust.

24 – Bard
20 – Papelbon
13 – Albers
13 – Wheeler
12 – Aceves (includes 1 start)
12 – Wakefield (includes 3 starts)
11 – Jenks
11 – Lester (all starts)

I threw Lester in there to show you that Francona has used some of his relievers as little as Lester. I’m not as worried about how little he has used some pitchers, rather I’m worried about Bard’s workload. To use Bard that much is irresponsible and going to lead to health trouble.