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The Red Sox have a lot of quality arms competing for the their bullpen, especially the impressive Tazawa.
Barring trade or injury, Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey, Craig Breslow, Andrew Miller and Koji Uehara appear to have spots locked up in the Boston bullpen.
That means that there only two, or at most, three openings left, with a number of pitchers in the competition.
Veteran right-hander Alfredo Aceves has the ability to pitch in any role. However, his proclivity for clashing with managers, both past and present, is a major negative.
Although right-hander Clayton Mortensen is a former first-round draft pick, he may have the most mundane repertoire of all the pitchers he is competing against. However, he had an impressive 3.21 ERA last year with Boston in 26 games, is consistent and can pitch multiple innings.
Right-hander Daniel Bard was one of the best setup men in baseball before failing spectacularly after being converted to a starter last season. He’s trying to reestablish himself as a reliever and is already earning praise this spring.
Despite bouncing up and down between Boston and Triple-A Pawtucket last season, young Japanese right-hander Junichi Tazawa was the Red Sox’s best pitcher in 2012, posting a 1.43 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 37 games. Once considered a moderate starting pitching prospect, he now has the team excited by his potential to be a star reliever.
A reliever for most of his major league career, southpaw Franklin Morales impressed with a 4.41 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning in the nine spot starts among his 37 games with the Red Sox last year. Having proven his versatility, he is another Boston pitcher who could be slotted into nearly any spot on the pitching staff.
Two young right-handed prospects acquired in last year’s huge trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers are already making strong impressions in spring training.
Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa are lighting up radar guns and appear to be nearly ready for the majors.
Tazawa should earn a spot, with Aceves and Morales being the next two most likely because of their experience and versatility. Regardless of who makes it, the Red Sox bullpen should be one of the deepest in baseball.
Statistics via BaseballReference