I love to preach patience and we have a long season ahead, but I think it’s time to question the bullpen. It’s only been 4 games, but a team putting big situations in the hands of Scott Schoeneweis and Scott Atchinson might want to start looking for help. Of course we know that isn’t the only trouble, but I’m starting to wonder if we have the arms to get to Daniel Bard, Hideki Okajima and Jonathon Papelbon.
Our lefty specialist has already been called on to face left handers and while he has a career xFIP of 3.53, but if you try to stretch him his xFIP jumps to 5.19. This should limit his usage exclusively to lefty hitters and should not be used for any more than that.
I’m sure this will put more early innings work to Atchinson, but this is a guy who was in Japan for two years. He has previous numbers to show a bit more skill and be perhaps a average level reliever, but can we know for sure after two seasons in Japan?
Here is where we get to the real problem though. Manny Delcarmen has a serious problem and needs to find a fix fast. His control and strikeout numbers have fallen for three straight years and now he has a velocity problem. Terry Francona can claim it’s not a problem, but it is and here is just a small study looking into the correlation of fastball speed and ERA. This along with his already deteriorating control puts him as a risky choice to come out of the pen.
That leaves Ramon Ramirez as a possible bridge to the heart of the pen. His final ERA last year hides what he really was. The 2.84 ERA is far away from the xFIP of 5.09 that comes from the K/BB that has fallen for three straight years. He was solid in 2007 with a 2.50, but since has fallen and I’m sure the move to the AL and then the AL East has been part of the reason.
For now the Red Sox will be counting heavily on the back three of the pen and possibly pushing them to multiple innings. There is no clear answer right now except to give Ramirez, Delcarmen and Atchinson a chance to prove themselves. Being they will be small sample sizes it will take a lot of work to see who is succeeding and can handle more time.