The Red Sox bullpen is something many viewed for years as a short coming and even when the team did things "right" there was injuries and struggles to take that away. This season though the team has stocked the bullpen and may have to send viable options packing. The current projected bullpen with Craig Breslow likely headed for the DL includes Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Andrew Miller, Brandon Workman, Edward Mujica, Burke Badenhop and Chris Capuano.
That group for the most part has not done much in spring to shuffle that list. Sure Miller has had continuing control issues and has a BB/9 over 13, but as the main lefty able to strikeout hitters at will he's unlikely to drop from the roster without injury.
The team also has two pitchers who are primarily starters in here in Workman and Capuano. A lefty and a righty with reversed results so far. Capuano has not been very dominant in strikeouts to walks, but has a 2.45 ERA and seems solid in the pen. Workman has dominated hitters for the most part with 15 strikeouts in 14.2 IP, but has an ERA over 5. Workman still has options, but the Red Sox don't seem in any way to view Workman not with the team to start 2014.
Ignoring the back of the bullpen in Uehara, Mujica and Tazawa we are left with Badenhop as the last reliever to question. To help the argument Badenhop has done little this spring to cement his spot. He has never been a strikeout guy and relies on ground balls as his strength. With only three strikeouts and three walks this spring in seven innings pitched he's lacked much control. In his last two seasons he's been so good by not walking many hitters, but not so this spring.
Badenhop seems to be the only one leaving the door open right now and while slim, the opportunity has looked to be grabbed by Francisco Cordero. With 11 innings of work Cordero has struck out 8 batters and walked only one. He's had 11 ground outs to only 3 fly outs and needed only 5.88 pitcher per inning of work.
Now while Cordero has looked good there is some reason to be skeptical. He missed all of 2013 with surgery, but while it was to his non-throwing shoulder it doesn't explain why his K/9 has dropped considerably from 2007, his walks are way up since 2007 and his velocity was down as of his last few seasons. Has rest given him some life and velocity back?
If his velocity can return to near 95 mph as it was in his best years then the year of rest may have been just what Cordero needed. The question of course is will he do this outside of spring. With three spring saves we know he's been used in situations involving plenty of younger hitters not currently major league ready at the end of the game. That's sure to inflate his numbers and make him look better.
There just isn't enough time in spring training to truly measure what a pitcher is capable of. It would be a shame to let Cordero walk at the end of spring only to be added by another team and have a successful season. On that same note if Cordero is only as good as his last few seasons before the 2013 surgery, then the team could see similar results from Badenhop or Drake Britton.
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