I made this chart to illustrate which pitchers we can expect to pitch in each inning. I will go over them by innings.
First Inning to Fourth Inning:
The first, second, third, and fourth innings are long relief situations that are caused by a monstrous number of allowed runs by the starting pitcher, or a injury to the starting pitcher. In these situations expect Tito to go to the former starter Tim Wakefield and reliever Scott Atchinson. Tim Wakefield will be his primary option due to the fact that he was a former starter and can go through the opposing lineup more than once. Atchinson could be seen on situations where Wakefield made a spot start or he has recently used as a long reliever. He could also be seen if Wakefield also gets pounded early on.
The fifth inning can see Dan Wheeler coming out of the bullpen if the starter cannot get past it. Depending on the size of the lead or deficit, the long relievers could also see some action in this slot. Over the past three years, Dan Wheeler has been quite successful, posting 0.99, 0.87, and 1.08 WHIPs and ERAs in the range of 3.10 – 3.40. This inning could also see another reliever yet to be determined. This could be Felix Doubront's inning of work if Theo decides not to acquire another reliever.
The sixth inning is where the extra reliever is really necessary. If Dan Wheeler pitches the 5th, who could pitch the sixth? Well, the answer to that could simply be nobody, as in the sense of two pitchers pitching 3 innings, (i.e. Wheeler pitches the 5th and half the 6th, and Jenks pitches the rest of the 6th and the entire 8th) but that option just doesn't help the bullpen. The other option is getting a Free Agent reliever like Hideki Okajima or Kyle Fransworth. And there is also Felix Doubront to pitch the 6th.
The final three innings is really where our bullpen looks really strong on paper. We got the possibility to pitch Wheeler if we have the lead by 4+ runs. If we are at 3 or below (tie included) expect Bobby Jenks and Daniel Bard to come in and pitch the seventh. At first we could just see Jenks pitching the 7th with Bard pitching the 8th, but if Jenks begins to find his stuff and return to top form, we could see them alternating the innings.
As I mentioned earlier, Daniel Bard could be the go-to-guy in the 8th for the Red Sox during the young season, but as it progresses, Bobby Jenks could also see some time in this role. Whoever doesn't pitch the 7th, pitches the 8th, as easy as that.
Of course we all know that in the past half a decade Jonathan Papelbon has been the only guy that is mentioned alongside the words "Red Sox" and "Ninth Inning" but this year it could change. Paps has struggled as of late and his contract ends after this season. It sure looks like the Paps' days in Boston could be over soon with Bard waiting patiently in line. We could see Bard in a lot more closing situations than we thought, so prepare yourselves!
Wrapping It Up
Boston has, on paper, a really solid bullpen, especially in the late innings. We do have a big gap in the 5th and 6th innings in which, depending on Theo's decision, could be a FA or Doubront. One thing to think about is that all our relievers are righties! A lefty specialist could come very handy down the road. Something is to think about is, can Salty catch knuckleballs?
Good Stats: In the past three years, Bobby Jenks has held the MFY to .136 AVG while allowing no runs in 6 games. Dan Wheeler allows a .100 AVG, no runs in 3 innings at Fenway.
Who should take over the sixth inning?
Felix Doubront (28 votes)
Hideki Okajima (resign) (29 votes)
Kyle Fransworth (4 votes)
Andrew Miller (6 votes)
Brian Fuentes (25 votes)
Dennys Reyes (1 vote)
Other (post in comments) (5 votes)
98 total votes