By Jeff Louderback
Before he threw a pitch when he took the mound in the seventh inning at Colorado on Wednesday night, Franklin Morales picked off Michael Cuddyer from first base. The hard-throwing left-hander followed with a strike out of Todd Helton in what was the storied player’s last at-bat at Coors Field. The outing likely clinched a spot for Morales on Boston’s ALDS roster.
Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy will compose the rotation. Chances are, the Red Sox will use seven relievers. Felix Doubront is a possibility, but it appears he will be left off the ALDS roster.
Considering that Morales appears fully recovered from the injuries that plagued him earlier in the season and is throwing 95, he will probably land in the bullpen for the ALDS. Morales is pitching much better than veteran Matt Thornton, who cannot seem to consistently get hitters from either side of the plate out.
Rookie right-hander Brandon Workman was reached for three runs and three hits in one-third of an inning in his last outing, and overall he has a 7.15 ERA as a reliever compared to 2.45 as a starter, but John Farrell likes him. Workman is more likely to make the roster over Rubby De La Rosa, Brayan Villareal and Allen Webster.
Adding Morales and Workman would leave one vacancy. That could be filled by Doubront, Thornton or rookie left-hander Drake Britton. Farrell likes Britton, but he has a 7.15 ERA over his last 10 outings (3.86 overall), and opposing batters have a .280 average against him (.278 for left-handed hitters and .282 for righties).
Thornton has a 3.21 ERA in 18 appearances for Boston, but that is misleading. Opposing hitters have a .362 average against him, and he has an atrocious 1.86 WHIP.
Though Doubront has limited experience as a reliever, he would be a better choice than Britton or Thornton.
The group of Uehara, Tazawa, Breslow, Morales and Dempster is a strength. The remaining two arms in the pen will not give Farrell the same comfort level, so the Red Sox will need to heavily rely upon Dempster, Morales, Breslow and Tazawa to set up Uehara for save opportunities in October.