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With Lackey out and Matsuzaka reeling, the Red Sox have starters in reserve

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  May 17, 2011 11:29 AM

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John Lackey is on the disabled list (retroactive to May 12) with what is being described as a strained elbow. Based on the fact that he played catch yesterday and threw in the bullpen over the weekend, it doesn't appear to be a serious injury.

But given his poor performance on the field and personal issues off it, it's fair to guess that his stint on the DL could last longer than 15 days.

Then there is Daisuke Matsuzaka, who last night seemed unwilling to throw his fastball or "let it go," as Terry Francona described it.

Since he tweaked his elbow on April 29, Matsuzaka has been awful (11.1 IP, 13 H, 11 ER, 10 BB, 6 K) in three appearances. Said Francona: “We’re going to sit and talk to him a little bit to try and figure out more what’s going on because it didn’t look completely right."

According to my Francona translation dictionary that means, "There's a fairly good chance he could be going on the DL soon, too."

The Sox are fortunate to have Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz. But with Lackey down and Matsuzaka holding onto the ropes, here is what the Sox have for rotation depth:

Tim Wakefield: The 44-year-old is back in the rotation again, at least for tonight. Wakefield is 4-13 with a 5.42 earned run average since Aug. 1, 2009. But these situations are why he is still around. He wants a meaningful role and here it is.

Alfredo Aceves: He is 15-1 with a 3.14 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP in 143.1 career innings and that includes five starts. Stretch him out a little bit more and the Sox could have a legit starter.

Andrew Miller: The lefty is 1-2, 2.35 for Triple-A Pawtucket. He has allowed only 15 hits and struck out 25 in 30.2 innings. But he also has walked 24. The Sox would prefer not to bring him back to the majors until his control issues are resolved.

Brandon Duckworth: He is 4-2 with a 2.37 ERA in seven starts for Pawtucket and has started 84 games in the majors over parts of eight seasons.

Felix Doubront: The Red Sox would really like to put their young lefty in the rotation. But he is down with a groin strain, the latest in what has been a series of injuries. He had pitched very well for Pawtucket, too, posting a 1.98 ERA over four starts.

Junichi Tazawa: He has come back from Tommy John surgery done 13 months ago and will make his first rehab start for Class A Salem on Friday. In theory, Tazawa could be ready for the majors in late June.

So there you have it, six possible starters for at least one opening and maybe two. How the Red Sox juggle their options over the coming weeks will be interesting to watch.

It's a matter of time before somebody suggests they promote Anthony Ranaudo out of Low Class A ball.

In two words: Um, no.

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