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Red Sox could seek right-handed bullpen upgrade

07.27.13 at 6:39 pm ET
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With Junichi Tazawa posting similar numbers against righties and lefties, the Sox don't have an overpowering right-on-right middle reliever. (AP)

With Junichi Tazawa posting similar numbers against righties and lefties, the Sox don’t have an overpowering right-on-right middle reliever. (AP)

BALTIMORE — It is a bizarre and, for the Red Sox, perplexing development. Here’s a look at what the current members of their bullpen have done against right-handed hitters (average/OBP/slugging):

Drake Britton (LHP): .200/.200/.200

Jose De La Torre (RHP): .211/.304/.526

Koji Uehara (RHP): .213/.244/.427

Craig Breslow (LHP): .256/.314/.359

Junichi Tazawa (RHP): .265/.308/.422

Pedro Beato (RHP): .308/.357/.308

Matt Thornton (LHP): .375/.500/.375

The work of Britton, De La Torre and Beato represents a fairly small sample, so it offers little grounds for conclusions. Still, aside from Uehara, who keeps everyone off the bases, there’s little evidence of a pitcher in that group who is capable of coming into games in the middle innings and dominating righties. (And it’s worth noting that even Uehara has done his most impressive work against lefties, holding them to a .106/.165/.176 line.)

That being the case, according to one major league source, the Red Sox would still like to find a right-handed arm for their bullpen as a complement to a group that is deep in lefties. That same source wondered whether, with the promising emergence of Britton in the bullpen (4 shutout innings, with success against a number of AL East luminaries such as Chris Davis, Nick Markakis and Robinson Cano), the Sox might entertain the idea of flipping recently acquired lefty Matt Thornton (presumably to a fellow contender) for a lockdown right-on-right pitcher. The team could also consider dealing Britton, of course, which would expand the number of potential trade partners, but because he represents a player with tremendous roster versatility (he has one option left beyond this year and wouldn’t be free-agent eligible until at least after the 2019 season), the incentive to do so would be diminished.

It is worth noting that the Sox’ moved at last year’s trade deadline to exchange one big league bullpen arm (Matt Albers, a right-hander) with another (Breslow) to achieve better left-right balance. The team may have interest in doing so once again.

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