The recruited starters in the Red Sox’ rotation have a reputation for throwing strikes, the best reputation to have in Fenway Park. As the Red Sox fill in their bullpen, they should choose pitchers with consistent control like their closer Koji Uhehara. This is easier said than done until Spring Training opens and pitchers strut their stuff.
Craig Breslow used to have pinpoint control. Then the wheels dropped off in 2014. If he wasn’t a southpaw, he wouldn’t even have a contract now. As it is, he has a chance to prove he can return to his 2012 form, but the probationary period is over. Throw strikes or move on.
Bobby Layne showed he could throw strikes last year, and he could easily become the the lefty specialist coming out of the bullpen. If he throws in the spring as he did in the fall, he could send Breslow packing.
Brandon Workman used to be aggressive with strikes. He worked fast and worked ahead. Then batters started hitting him the second time through the line-up, and he started to work around them. He will never be successful without that aggressive approach, and it could make him a middle reliever. Spring Training will tell more.
Steven Wright throws knuckleball strikes. Knuckle-ball throwers are not famous for control, because they don’t know where the ball will break. Sometimes it breaks for the heart of the plate. That would not bring confidence to a manager looking out toward the bullpen. Is he the next Tim Wakefield or the next ticket back to Pawtucket?
Other candidates include Edwin Escobar, Matt Barnes, Drake Britton and Zeke Spruill (acquired from the Diamondbacks). If they can throw strikes, they should be given a shot. The chances that one of these has radar in their arms ought to be good. They’ve all had a shot in the Majors.
Unlike the starters, relievers sometimes come out of nowhere to dominate. They get a new pitch or find the strike zone and suddenly they are good for three outs every other day. Come Spring Training, as we await for the ace of the staff to come forward, we might keep an eye out for the strike-thrower for the seventh inning. I like Brandon Workman and Bobby Layne, but every year brings a new chance to find the zone and find it often.