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Buchholz will be needed in bullpen

by Chris Allen

Daisuke Matsuzaka made his first rehab start on Sunday and will be getting at least one more before being recalled to the big club. He will certainly be placed into the starting rotation when he arrives as the team is trying to get his arm strength up to ninety or so pitches. While it is unclear whether he will take Tim Wakefield's spot or Clay Buchholz's I am a firm believer that the latter should be moved into the bullpen for the remainder of the season. The Red Sox bullpen has been used early and often so far this young season, mostly with mediocre results. I feel confident in the ability of Bard and Papelbon to get through the Eighth and Ninth even though each has struggled early on. Okajima will probably get himself worked out and be fine but even when he is on he can still be an adventure with a lot of full counts. I have no confidence whatsoever in the rest of the bullpen. Ramon Ramirez, what happened to you? He got off to such a promising start in 2009: hitters batted less than .200 against him in the first half but .270 in the second half with an ERA around 3.50. Unfortunately he has picked up right from where he left off. In three games this year he has 1.1 innings but 5 hits and 5 runs all earned with a home run to boot. Manny Delcarmen has looked better than how he finished last year but has lost a couple of miles velocity. He was hurt last year and perhaps he will regain some of that power but I am skeptical to say the least. Scott Atchison and Scott Schoeneweis are there to eat innings in blowouts, although Shoeneweis has had a pretty good career as a bullpen lefty. Alan Embree is waiting in the wings in Pawtucket but he has an opt-out clause and can leave the team if he is not called up to Boston by Friday. Buchholz could slide into that seventh inning role and be the bridge from the starter to Bard/Papelbon. He has dominating stuff and would stregthen a weak bullpen. If one of the other starters goes down because of injury there is Boof Bonser in Pawtucket who could take the spot leaving Clay in the bullpen. I would prefer this scenario to moving Buchholz back to the rotation because I believe it would take too long to get his arm strength back. Wakefield has gotten hurt the last two seasons but when he is healthy he is a steady pitcher who generally gives the Sox an opportunity to win. Buchholz stills seems nervous and unsure of himself especially when there are runners on base.

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