Though this is the obvious strength of the team -- the Sox lead the
American League in relief ERA (3.42) and rank third in baseball -- the last
two weeks have been prompted some questions: Are the relievers getting
tired? Are the Sox vulnerable against lefthanded batters? Has the
early-season ineffectiveness of the starters caught up with the relievers?
Beginning with the unforgettable implosion against Baltimore on June 30,
Sox relievers are 2-4 with a 6.95 ERA in their last 33 2/3 innings while
allowing opponents to bat .309 against them. Two meltdowns against the
Orioles and Royals skew those numbers some, but it should be noted that
lefthanded batters went a combined 8 for 17 (a .471 average) in those games
against Justin Masterson and Manny Delcarmen (pictured). Could Epstein be eying a
lefty reliever, too?