Pitching a Fit

Without delving into a long, analytical post (only one of those a weekend, thanks), the Red Sox have some tough choices to make when it comes to the pitching staff and the postseason (outlined in a nifty Globe slideshow here).

Who do you want to see on the bump for the Sox come October? And how closely does that gell with what you actually think you’ll see? (My thoughts after the jump).

Even assuming 12 pitchers, this gets tough. I count nine no-brainers, either because they got the Sox this far or because the Sox have too much invested to get rid of them now (OK, that really only applies to Gagne):

Josh Beckett
Curt Schilling
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Tim Wakefield
Mike Timlin
Hideki Okajima
Jonathan Papelbon
Eric Gagne
Manny Delcarmen

So that’s three spots for the likes of:

Clay Buchholz
Jon Lester
Julian Tavarez
Javier Lopez
Bryan Corey

You pretty much have to take Lester, who’s been very good of late, better than either Matsuzaka or Wakefield. Do you take Buchholz? The fans would scream bloody murder if you didn’t, but high-stress playoff innings and their effect on a young arm may have the Sox brass thinking Tavarez instead. On the other hand, if Gagne and Okajima aren’t any better, Buchholz seems the best bet to bridge the Delcarmen-Papelbon gap, whereas Lester or Wakefield could fill the Tavarez role in a short series.

Javier Lopez has gotten some big outs and is a lefty, but the Sox should leave his .296 BA against lefties at home and give Bryan Corey a well-deserved shot for some playoff cred. Besides, that would be a great story.

28 comments… add one
  • Maybe I’m remembering this wrong, but we can only take 2 of 3 out of Yagoboy, Corey, and Buchholz, right? (To ostensibly replace Donnelly and Clement) And Yagoboy seems like a lock right now. To me, at that point, it simply makes it a question of whether you think Buchholz should be shut down with an eye towards his future health.
    Also, is there some pressing need for us to carry Wake in the first round? Would not carrying him make him ineligible for the ALCS? He’s not going to start in the first round, and him coming out of the bullpen is probably neither a possibility nor a good option anyway.
    Unless I misinterpreted the rule I’m too lazy to cite at this moment.

    QuoSF September 25, 2007, 2:26 am
  • I forgot about the replacement rule, too, Quo. Hmm, Buchholz or Corey. That’s quite the dilemma. Corey’s the actual reliever, and he’s done well and seems to deserve the shot. Buchholz on the other had has a chance to be downright filthy in that eighth-inning spot. But then you don’t want to blow out his arm in the ALDS…

    Paul SF September 25, 2007, 2:29 am
  • I actually think the smart move is to go Lester-Corey-Lopez. If the Sox FO can get their heads out of their [censored] and realize that Lopez should be used when they need a GB from a RHH. Tavarez is a pitcher designed for the new rule, the one to take the roster slot in the middle of a series if the pitcher is injured (possibly Schilling, Wake?)
    Buccholz is at 148 IP on the season, and he threw 119 in 2006. 29 more innings is what, a 24% jump from ’06 (this percentage could be horribly wrong, it’s late) It probably is time to shut him down.

    QuoSF September 25, 2007, 2:38 am
  • Oh, and also, you’re writing off Kyle Snyder? Not that I want to see him in anything but a mop-up role myself, but it seems kind of unfair not to even consider the guy…:)

    QuoSF September 25, 2007, 2:39 am
  • I just can’t see them taking Buck (because of the innings limit), and that’s a goddam shame. Glad he wasted 20 innings as a starter while Gagne was crapping the bed for most of his 16 innings in a Sox uni.
    I see it as Corey, Tavarez, and Lester.

    Pete September 25, 2007, 6:44 am
  • Please, send Wake packing. His appearances make me want to do my best Eduard Munch woodcut impression.
    I give this a 1/10000 chance, though. There’s no way they leave Wake off the post-season roster.

    SF September 25, 2007, 7:44 am
  • glad to see gagne on your list

    dc September 25, 2007, 8:37 am
  • No chance Wakes is off the roster, and I for one support him being there.

    Hudson September 25, 2007, 9:08 am
  • Playoff rosters must be set at 25, not including disabled players, on August 31. For each player on the 60-day DL, teams may add players to the eligible list during the playoffs at the same position, provided that they were in the orginization on August 31. This is why some teams will bring up injured minor-league players and put them on the 60-day DL. Teams must choose 25 players from their playoff eligible list before each round of the playoffs.

    John - YF (Trisk) September 25, 2007, 10:15 am
  • I just plumb forgot about Snyder. Sheesh. It’s hard to see him being left off. In which case, I’d say Snyder-Corey-Lester from that group of three, leaving off Tavarez and Buchholz.
    Hard to call Buchholz’s innings as a starter a waste. He provided the flexibility for the Sox to realign their rotation and give other staretrs a rest while still pitching well enough to win crucial games.

    Paul SF September 25, 2007, 11:30 am
  • Has Lester ever relieved? I don’t know if I trust his ability to come in and throw strikes in a high pressure relief situation. I’d probably leave him off and go Tavarez, Snyder, Buchholz/Corey/Lopez, depending on how Oki looks this week (if he’s effcetive, maybe two lefties aren’t necessary) and whatever they decide on Clay.

    Tyrel SF September 25, 2007, 11:43 am
  • Hard to claim those were crucial games when the Sox will have won a playoff slot by 6 or 8 games (you know, cause the division doesn’t matter).
    Fact is, the FO was chickenshit about pulling a Joba and went the easy, expensive route with Gagne. Sad, but that for me portends a future where there are more Drews and Lugos and less Papis and Variteks. Indeed, the guy they had this year with the biggest possible upside (WMP) – they replaced him with Drew and traded him for an offensive and defensive downgrade.

    Pete September 25, 2007, 12:05 pm
  • Why would you put Lester on the roster unless he’s actually going to start? He hasn’t ever made a relief appearance for the Red Sox, and with his walk rate, would you really want him to?
    Assuming Buccholz can go to 160 innings, he should be a lock. Assuming he pitches 2 innings between now and the end of the year, he’s good for 10 in the postseason. That might not sound like a lot, but think of it as 10 one-inning appearances and suddenly it seems pretty significant.

    academic-SF September 25, 2007, 1:06 pm
  • Tyrel-
    Lester has never relieved. What I was thinking was that he might be (given Wake’s injury) a more reliable option as 4th starter in the ALCS.

    QuoSF September 25, 2007, 1:09 pm
  • Pete:
    It might be better for debate if you simply cite the reasons why you think Buchholz might have been better off as a spot reliever or setup guy (a la Joba) rather than hurl invective like “chickenshit FO” into the thread. Just suggesting this since you’ve long since established your opinion on the Gagne deal here at YFSF, and it might serve the discussion better if we stick to baseball and not indulge in the repetitive namecalling.

    SF September 25, 2007, 1:17 pm
  • Buck can go 160 innings – if you’re willing to risk a major injury next year.

    Pete September 25, 2007, 1:22 pm
  • Agreed with Pete. I actually think Buchholz is shut down and they just haven’t told us yet. Or maybe he’ll get one relief appearance in the last games a home so he can get some deserved applause. Bring him right up to 150 so we can look at about 170-175 next season.
    No doubt, they’ll make some kind of announcement contrary to all this in the next few days.

    QuoSF September 25, 2007, 1:32 pm
  • When the Yankees were in Boston Michael Kay said on the air Clay could only pitch 13 more innings before he reached his limit for the season. I guess he was right.

    John - YF (Trisk) September 25, 2007, 1:38 pm
  • SF –
    Sox FO took the easy, expensive path for Gagne. That’s a recipe they followed all off-season. I honestly think they got scared from the Craig Hansen experience. Rather than realize that decent relief pitchers are a dime a dozen, they tried for the sure thing. Unfortunately, they never are. Relief pitchers emerge from the clusterfunk. They had to see what they had first (Buchholz, Delcarmen, even Romero) and they didn’t.
    Worse, they could have tried converting Buck at AAA and see how he and his arm responded while limiting his innings. No harm there and it would have at least kept that option open. And double worse, they didn’t regulate Oki’s innings early enough.
    Instead, I think they were more worried about one of the starters getting hurt and being done for the season. Problem there is that they had plenty of cover there (Tavarez, Lester, Gabbard) and there’s more of a need for a great set-up guy in the post-season than a decent #4.
    They had plenty of time to get it right while experimenting. Instead they chose the path of least resistance and gave up trying. That’s what’s crazy – doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting different results.

    Pete September 25, 2007, 1:39 pm
  • doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting different results
    Trading for Gagne does not equal signiong J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo. Repeating it over and over again will not make it true. I understand your opinion that they are all symptomatic of a lazy FO. I do not agree, and just because you ascribe a similar philosophy to the trhee deals does not change the fact that they are very different transactions filling very different needs at different times of the year. Lumping them together is convenient for your argument but not really helpful.

    Paul SF September 25, 2007, 2:46 pm
  • I know of one other team, Paul, that could have made all three deals in less than one calendar year – the Yankees. The Sox were the only other team that could afford those deals. In that very real sense they belong together. Every other team made do with what they had – even the Yankees. If the Sox had done that, Buck would be the setup guy right now. Instead, they wasted his innings on meaningless September games.
    And the over and over bit refers to how they’ve treated Gagne. That’s the insanity. Not only did they not try out the other options they had (while restricting Oki’s innings), when it became obvious they goofed, they kept trying the same damn thing (Oki and Gagne) over and over and over again. That’s even more disgusting. They had at least six weeks to get it right, with a fat division lead, and they completely squandered the opportunity.

    Pete September 25, 2007, 3:15 pm
  • Wake is way valuable on the post season roster… not only can he start, but if we’re facing elimination and our pen is blown out, he can do all manner of relief work as long as he hasn’t pitched the previous day.
    If they’re serious about limiting his innings, they can’t put Buchholz on the roster. :( I’d rather have him than Gagne at this point though.

    Jackie (SF) September 25, 2007, 3:57 pm
  • I agree on Wake. He’s a very valuable guy for a game that goes extra innings. Besides, I like his chances messing with the Yankees.

    Pete September 25, 2007, 4:31 pm
  • Besides, I like his chances messing with the Yankees.
    Based on what? If Wake is in against the Yankees, that means there’s either been trouble or there will be trouble.

    SF September 25, 2007, 5:13 pm
  • If Wake is in against the Yankees, that means there’s either been trouble or there will be trouble.
    Or we’re up 3-0.

    Tyrel SF September 25, 2007, 5:19 pm
  • No way Wake comes in with only a three run lead! ;-)

    SF September 25, 2007, 5:19 pm
  • Or a game has gone long into extra innings. After inning 10+, I like Wake coming in before any other reliever and he’s better than anything else the Yanks or any other team would throw out there.

    Pete September 25, 2007, 5:25 pm
  • Keep Corey and drop Lopez.

    Anonymous September 26, 2007, 11:15 am

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