Change-UpJuly 08, 2008
Buc's Back
By Patrick Sullivan

Boston has recalled Clay Buchholz and is sending Justin Masterson back to Pawtucket to prepare for his return to the Big Leagues as a reliever. This is something of a double-edged sword as I see it. That Buchholz is back in the rotation is a fantastic thing for Red Sox fans. His peripheral numbers (3.34 FIP, 8.6 K/G) for Boston while he was up should do much to allay concerns that this may be a premature move back to the rotation. Also, check out his numbers in Pawtucket this year.

           IP   H   BB  SO  ERA
Buchholz  43.2  36  17  43  2.47

What should perhaps be more concerning to Sox fans is the prospect of Masterson returning as some sort of bullpen savior. Boston's relief pitching struggles are well known and given last year's Eric Gagne disaster, there could be some reluctance to aggressively pursue outside help. Would you want to give up Michael Bowden for Brian Fuentes or Damaso Marte? Neither would I.

Still, Masterson's peripherals leave a bit to be desired and his .832 OPS yielded to left-handed batters makes one wonder if he could be any more than a low-leverage guy or a ROOGY at this point. His performance out of the pen at AAA will be something to monitor, and will probably be the main determinant for whether or not (or how aggressively) Boston decides to pursue outside help.


That's a good idea for them. They could probably do that with at least one other pitcher from their AAA staff too. I just wrote a few days ago that I expect Boston will either grab a very good non-big-name reliever, or pull up a couple AAA pitchers to eat some innings.

As a Sox fan, I think it's pretty great that the Sox brass is thinking outside the box here (Dan Duquette would surely have given up Bowden, and probably Lars Anderson and Daniel Bard as well, to get a "name" reliever this year).

I'll also note that there's generally an improvement in most pitchers' peripherals when they move from starting to relief, which as a layman, I've always thought was commonsensically attributable to the fact that they can go all out on each batter they face.

That being said, Masterson does seem like a ROOGY guy, who's also still struggling a bit with his control at the major league level.

I wonder if it's not a better idea to keep Masterson in the rotation, and put someone like Wakefield and/or Colon in the pen. Wakefield's probably not someone you want in high leverage situations, but seems like a pretty good long relief option. Colon could be a very good short reliever, just the answer to his injury issues and to our need to find someone to pitch in front of Papelbon.