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Clay Buchholz is scheduled for a rehab outing with the Lowell Spinners on Sunday, according to the Boston Herald. With that being said, the Boston Red Sox would either need to place one of its current five starters on the DL or find a spot for them in the bullpen.
The best option is probably to find a way to put Ryan Dempster on the disabled list, but option B is to just keep the veteran active on the expanded roster come September and use him sparingly out of the bullpen.
Dempster may be 36 years old and needs to stick to a strict regimen to stay ready for his starts, but he has struggled of late as a starter. He has an ERA of 7.40 in August with an 0-1 record.
The veteran right-handed starter also has the most experience in the bullpen in his major-league career. He served as the closer for the Chicago Cubs from 2005 to 2007. He only had six starts from 2004 to 2007 until he became a full-time starter in 2008. If Koji Uehara starts to falter late in the season, Dempster might be a great option to get the job done down the stretch until the postseason to keep Uehara well rested for the playoffs.
There is no way Jon Lester, who has an ERA south of 3.00 and a 3-1 record since the All-Star break, is removed from the rotation.
Felix Doubront has been shaky in a couple starts of late, but has really been a consistent part of the rotation since his mid-May struggles and has earned a start in the postseason. His innings may be piling up, but it looks as if he is stronger than last season at this time.
John Lackey pitched a complete game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night with eight innings of work with two earned runs and a mere three hits, but was once again let down by the Red Sox’ offense. Of the 10 times the Red Sox have been shutout, Lackey has five of those starts. He has proven himself to be a valuable starter and also can’t be deferred to the bullpen, even with an 8-11 record.
Jake Peavy has only one career relief appearance and has also been a great asset in this rotation. He has allowed two earned runs in three of four starts and also has failed to get much run support.
That just leaves Dempster has the only starting pitcher who would really accept a role in the bullpen. With the roster expanding to 40 by the time Buchholz will be ready, it seems kind of stupid to just DL him for the playoffs. The Red Sox need more right-handed arms out of the bullpen and Dempster has some time in the bullpen over his career.
Why not take a chance in September to take a struggling starter and see what he can give you in the bullpen? Sure, he might not be in the close games that often with his struggles, but he can eat innings when another starter falters down the stretch or when the team is up by several runs.
The Red Sox need consistency down the stretch in their pitching and taking Dempster out of the rotation will only help the team to try and win the AL East.