Injuries mounting, taxing bullpen - Where do the Sox turn?

Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

A bullpen that was expected to be one of the best in MLB (at least on paper) heading into the 2013 season has seen its shares of ups and downs.

Add to the list: injuries.

Closer Joel Hanrahan is out with Tommy John elbow ligament surgery. Lefty reliever Andrew Miller has damaged ligaments in his foot requiring surgery and is out for the remainder of the season. Other injuries have hampered bullpen guys this season and thrust guys like Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa into a much more intense role than anticipated, picking up the slack for others.

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington answered media questions Monday in Seattle regarding how he plans to help the pen. Cherington responded by saying he expects to add from within.

The most efficient way to do it would be to ignore [the trade market] completely." Cherington told reporters before Monday night's game. "But then you run the risk of not having enough guys out there. We have to strike the right balance in the middle. ... I do think it lends to the point that if you can find solutions internally, that's always the better way to go.

We’ve already seen Jose De La Torre and Alfredo Aceves make appearances for the Sox. Today, the Boston called up Brandon Workman, another right-hander from Pawtucket, and optioned De La Torre back to Pawtucket. Workman was 5-1 with a 3.43 ERA with Double-A Portland before being promoted to Pawtucket in June. He is 3-1 with a 2.80 ERA in six starts with the PawSox. If and when he gets into a game, Workman will be making his Major League Debut.

Those pitchers add depth to the bullpen, for sure, but with Franklin Morales out and now Miller, only one left-handed pitcher remains, Craig Breslow.

Cherington doesn’t seem to think adding another lefty is a necessity, and I tend to agree. It doesn’t matter who is out there as long as they can get outs. Yes, it’s nice to have a mix of lefties and righties, but what good is a lefty who is only going to come into the game to face maybe one or two batters? If you can trust the right-handed pitcher to get the out, then let him. Or if there’s a base open and right-handed hitter on deck, walk the lefty to get to him.

Rubby De La Rosa may be called upon
to work out of Boston's bullpen.

One thought some experts have floated around is moving Rubby De La Rosa to the pen and bringing him up. Not a bad idea, if you ask me. De La Rosa is ready and bringing him out of the bullpen for longer outings (2-4 innings) would keep him ready in the scenario that he needs to be moved back to the rotation for next season. It would also limit his innings for the remainder of this year, a good thing for a guy coming off Tommy John surgery in 2011.

Would you like to see the Red Sox trade for a bullpen pitcher? Or do you think the best thing is to promote internally? Share your thoughts in the comments below. You can also tweet me at @thebenwhitehead with your thoughts.

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