If the starters cannot return to the form they showed in 2005, then the bullpen has to return to that form. Only Bobby Jenks returns from that group of pitchers. According to most reports the Sox have six relievers with closer type stuff. They are Jenks, Matt Thornton, Mike MacDougal, David Aardsma, Andrew Sisco, and Nick Masset. The bullpen will have a lot of new names in it this year. How these new guys perform will set the tone for the season.
#45 Bobby Jenks – The closer job is Bobby’s to lose. He took some advice and came to camp much lighter than he did last year. He recorded 41 saves last year. One bad note was that 3 of his 4 blown saves came after the All-Star break last year. He has devastating stuff, and could have a bright future with the Sox if he takes care of his body. One scary note is that it was rumored that Charlie Haeger was teaching him the knuckleball. If you were the hitter you wouldn’t have a chance. Last year he had 80 K’s in 69.2 innings pitched. He is the anchor of the bullpen. His velocity is not where it was at the end of last year, but this was the case last year as well. He kept getting better as the season moved on.
#37 Matt Thornton – Matt provides a solid left handed arm out of the bullpen. He appeared in 63 games last year for the Sox posting a 5-3 record with a 3.33 ERA and 2 saves. This is his second year with the club, and the team will be relying on him more since Neil Cotts was traded away in the off season.
#47 Mike MacDougal – Mike was a late season aquisition last year from the Royals. In limited time he posted a 1-1 record with a 1.55 ERA, 1 save, and 21 K’s in 29 innings pitched. He did not pitch very much last year, but seemed to be effective in the time that we saw him.
#54 David Aardsma – Aardsma could be a key player in the Sox bullpen, or he could be the answer to a trivia question. The Sox acquired the righty in the Cotts deal this offseason. Last year with the Cubs he was 3-0 with a 4.08 ERA, and 49k’s in 53 innings pitched. From the little I was able to see of him last year he looked like Vazquez. He has great stuff, but can’t seem to put it all together. He has been working on getting his slider going most of spring training. He made the team on the last day of spring training, and will be on a short leash as the season starts.
#51 Andrew Sisco – This might be the steal of the off season. We acquired Sisco even up for utilityman Ross Gload from the Royals. Sisco is a 6’10” lefty that has great stuff. I am instantly rooting for him because he is from Steamboat Springs, Colorado which is my favorite ski resort. Last year for the Royals he was 1-3, with a 7.10 ERA, 1 save, and 52 k’s in 58.1 innings pitched. We need another good left handed arm, and he could be the answer. Sisco had a rough outing right before the final cuts were made. The outings by the pitchers on the cusp were so bad that Ozzie took a night to cool off before he made his final decision. Sisco made the team at the expense of Boone Logan. If Andrew does not perform, Ozzie will waste no time in bringing Logan up from Triple A.
#46 Nick Masset – Here is another pitcher that was acquired for McCarthy. He has been a lock for the bullpen since the early spring. He has five pitches that he can use. They are fastball, curve, cutter, slider, and changeup. He was a starter in the minors, but will be used as a reliever this year. In limited action in the majors last year he was 0-0, with a 4.15 ERA, and 4 k’s in 8.2 innings pitched.
#57 Boone Logan – Last year Boone broke spring training with the team, but had what he later called ‘a mental breakdown’ while in the majors. He says he is better this year, but only time will tell that. He gave up 18 runs in the 17.1 innings he pitched last year. He did have one save and 15 k’s as well. He will be one of the wildcards in the pen. Boone was cut on the last day despite a great spring training. He was 1-0 in 9 appearances, and did not give up a run.
#34 Gavin Floyd – Gavin will be in the bullpen after losing out on the 5th starters spot. Floyd was acquired in the Garcia trade, and was the favorite for the 5th starters job coming into the spring. A couple of bad outings opened the door for Danks. In his first action of the spring he hurt his ankle falling off the mound. He was considered by the Phillies as a project, and that is why we were able to get him. Last year he was 4-3 with a 7.29 ERA, and 34 k’s in 54 innings pitched. He could be the one the Sox go to if Danks cannot get it done as a starter. He was probably destined for Charlotte when he did not get the starting job. He can still get his innings in as a starter, and be ready to come up if he is needed.
#78 Adam Russell – Adam put his name into the hat for the fifth starter at the end of the spring. He pitched well enough to get some notice. He was yet another non roster invitee that impressed this spring. Russell was moved up to the AA Birmingham club during the season last year. Adam is another big player in the bullpen. He is 6’8″ and 250 pounds. He will be another imposing force on the mound. Russell can also drop down to give hitters another look. He has never pitched in the majors, but impressed the coaches enough to see some innings this year. Russell was sent down during the last week of spring training. He will start the season in Double A, but I think we will see more of him before the season is over. He really opened some eyes this spring.