Re: Are the sox a better team this year?
posted at 2/19/2012 12:53 AM EST
False. The bullpen will be weaker, minus Papelbon, but it is quality starter depth that determines pitching effectiveness over the course of a long season.
I think that if Bard or Aceves stay in the pen, we might be surprised this year. The big three of Paps-Bard-Aceves were pretty awesome last year. Even those three all together this year might not ever be that good at the same time again.
It's true that better starting pitching can more than make up for a "weaker pen", and it's hard to imagine this rotation not being able to improve on this:
(Numbers as starters only)
Lackey 160 IP 6.41/1.619 WHIP
Miller 58 IP 5.55/1.800
Weiland 23 IP 8.72/1.846
241 IP of awful pitching.
Wake 137 5.31/1.398
Bedard 38 4.03/1.553
Dice-K 36 4.95/1.404
Aceves 21 5.14/1.571
Another 232 innings of not-so-great pitching.
These awful innings are likely to be replaced by:
140+ starter IP from Bard
100 IP more from Buchholtz
The 232 not-so-great IP will likely be replaced by...
140+ IP by Aceves (if not in the pen)
140+ IP by Cook, Padilla, Mortensen, Doubront, Silva, Wilson, or someone else.
90+ IP more from Dice-K or someone listed above.
I can't see Bard and Aceves both being starters all season long, but if they are, and do well, we won't need a bullpen as good as last year's. I'm going to assume Aceves stays in the pen. Let's look at 2011 vs 2012 with that in mind:
2011 (IP Pitcher WHIP/ERA):
93 Aceves 1.000/2.03
73 D Bard 0.959/3.33 Melancon
65 Albers 1.438/4.73
64 Papelbon 0.933/2.94 Bailey
49 Wheeler 1.115/4.38 More IP by Morales, Doubront, and Tazawa
32 Morales 1.268/3.62
30 Atchison 1.220/3.26
20 Bowden 1.500/4.05
17 Wakefield 1.038/3.63
16 B Jenks 2.234/6.32
10 Doubront 1.935/6.10
8 Okajima 1.440/4.32 More IP by Morales, Doubront, and Tazawa
8 R Williams 1.800/6.48 More IP by Morales, Doubront, and Tazawa
8 R Hill 0.750/0.00
7 A Miller 1.950/5.40
4 Hottovy 1.750/6.75 More IP by Morales, Doubront, and Tazawa
6 pitchers with 3 or less IP (12 IP 9 ER 6.75 ERA)
Basically, we need to replace the relief IP in red. Others will have more or less IP depending on health and performance. My guess is the IP will be replaced by the men in blue.
The pen should not be as good, but perhaps we wont need it to be.