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The Boston Red Sox had a pretty solid bullpen for most of the 2012 season. There were times when Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Bailey and other relievers had trouble closing out the game, but, overall, the entire bullpen put together one of the better ERAs in the AL.
In 2013, the Red Sox have added a few more arms in Joel Hanrahan and Koji Uehara, who will solidify the backend of the bullpen to the extent that the end of games will be easy for John Farrell. He now has multiple options to close and setup. He also has several guys who can get the job done for multiple innings.
The Andrew Bailey experiment ended after about a month of little success for the young closer from Oakland. Hanrahan was brought in to be the closer in 2013 and his live arm will really be an asset in the AL East.
Hanrahan is 31 years old and has really been a dominant closer with the Pittsburgh Pirates since acquiring the job full-time in 2011. He has 76 saves over the last two seasons and his fastball has typically topped out at about 100 mph.
Bailey was traded from the Athletics to the Red Sox last offseason, but failed to really get going after a thumb injury during spring training. He came back in mid-August and finished 2012 with an ERA of 7.04 and closed out six of nine save opportunities. The 28-year-old will now get the chance to be a head setup guy and will likely be the guy to close games out when Hanrahan needs a day off.
The 37-year-old has only been in the U.S. for four years and has a total of 211 2/3 innings pitched combined with the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles. His 2.89 ERA and 0.92 WHIP are among the highest in MLB since his 2009 debut with the Orioles.
Uehara’s role with the Red Sox will be to setup the closer in the seventh and/or eighth innings. He has the ability to strikeout multiple batters in a row, but also can get that double-play ball to get out of a jam. He will be the glue to fine tune this bullpen in 2013.
Junichi Tazawa was a quality arm coming out of the bullpen for the Sox in 2012. He walked only five batters in 44 innings while striking out 45. His ERA was a team-low 1.43 (of those that played more than one game with the team).
In 2013, he will be able to come in for an inning or a couple batters to get the Red Sox out of jams in the sixth or seventh innings. He could possibly close if called upon, too (he was 1-of-1 in save opportunities last year).
Craig Breslow recently signed a two-year deal with the Red Sox to avoid arbitration. The lefty specialist will help take down the tough lefties out of the bullpen as he finished 2012 with only 20 innings pitched in 23 games played. His 2.70 ERA helped limit the damage in key situations and he should the lone lefty specialist coming out of the bullpen to start the 2013 season.
The final three arms out of the bullpen will be used by Farrell as pitchers who can come in early in the game if the starter begins to have issues locating pitches or after getting hit hard.
Aceves may be having issues lately, but his rubber arm is the topic of conversation when he is on the mound. With his fastball back to 93-94 as a long-relief guy, Aceeves should be able to still pitch effectively and not get hit hard like in 2012.
Franklin Morales came in for some spot starts, long-releif appearances and even just to get out a left-handed batter. He is one of the most valuable arms in 2013 for the Red Sox and his mid-90s fastball is just one of his pitches that can get the job done. He has a dominant slider and a quality curveball to put lefties away quickly.
Clayton Mortensen may be 27 years old with only three years of experience, but he can get the job done in multiple inning situations. In 2012, he pitched multiple innings in 11 of his 26 appearances and finished with a 3.21 ERA in 42 innings pitched.
Miller is another lefty specialist who can come in for one inning or one batter and still get the job done. In 2012, he posted a career-low 3.35 ERA in 53 games. He totaled only 40 1/3 innings pitched and would be a great arm to have if Breslow gets hurt or starts to struggle.
Bard is an interesting case coming into 2013. He started off 2012 in the starting rotation, but, after a start in early June, he spent a couple months in Pawtucket to work on his command.
The 27-year-old began to lose velocity and went from 98 to 92 in a matter of months. He lost the command of all his pitches and even stuggled in relief when he came back up at the end of August.
In 2013, Bard will likely start in Pawtucket until he can show that he can control every pitch. This will depend on how he does in spring training and he could be the X-factor in the Red Sox bullpen come April.