Can I admit I'm not exactly Paps up there when thinking about how the bullpen has been used lately? Our players love playing for Tito and some of that has to do with the confidence he shows in them in certain situations.
Paps, for example, belongs to save situations and that's not going to change anytime soon, and it shouldn't. MDC is the RHP called upon most often in the 7th/8th in close games. Again. No problem.
The issue, here, is some heralded RPs who need to switch roles with their, perhaps, less-heralded counterparts.
Craig Hansen has been up-and-down since called up, looking better than MDC at times, and looking worse than Timlin at others. Yet Tito has shown confidence in Hansen, putting him in situations where the score is close and the Sox are deep into the game. The fact of the matter is, despite how good he was today (and he was, awesome). He needs some of what Joe Morgan might refer to as consistency before he's trusted as the third option out of the pen.
Hideki Okajima. I wish I had some confidence in him. But I just don't. I have to wonder why he was in the game late yesterday, rather than David Aardsma, but of course remembered that we used/wasted Aardsma in back-to-back losses. I don't know what Oki needs, but he needs to put in some impressive work in garbage time to earn our confidence to pitch him late in games. Until then.
Javy Lopez. I wouldn't be saying this last year. But, for now, Javy needs to be getting those high-leverage situations when Tito/Farrell want a lefty. Javy's been effective this year, for whatever reason, and we should keep riding that while it lasts. The fact that his total numbers indicate that he's making hitters, in general, look like Jason Varitek (.703 OPS against, v. .717 OPS) is as encouraging about Lopez as it is discouraging about our captain.
David Aardsma. Aardsma has earned a shot at some more important situations, especially given his performance this weekend, striking out the side in two straight games. A 1.30 WHIP and 36 Ks in 34+? Not lights-out, but certainly better than many of our other options.
In, short, get J-Lo and Aardsma out of these blowout games and near-losses, and let's start using a couple of our best relievers as they should be used.
Oh. And Mike Timlin needs to be moved from the 15-day DL to the foreverplease RL. Yes. I'm in the camp that believes he's pretty much entirely cooked. I know he proved us all wrong last season, but it just seems different.
I suppose some trades could be made to help our cause. Names that intrigue me:
Jon Rauch: 33 Ks and 35 baserunners in 36 2/3. Toiling away for the last-place Nationals.
Alan Embree: Looks like he's gotten his mojo back in Oakland. 31 Ks and a 1.24 WHIP in 30 2/3.
Damaso Marte: He's been excellent, in Pittsburgh,with 39 Ks in 36 1/3 and a 1.07 WHIP. Last I've seen is that Pittsburgh might hold on to him the rest of the year, but I don't know how much sense that makes for them.
Who'd be a fair return for these cats? I dunno. Throw down some ideas in the comments.