Each spring the Red Sox talk about pitching depth, as does every team in baseball. It's a necessity, but also carries with it a bit of a stigma. An organization hopes it never has to test that pitching depth, for that means that something has gone wrong at the top.
With Josh Beckett's shoulder injury coming just over a week after the Daniel Bard demotion, the organization's ability to stockpile reserve pitching options is at a premium. That means fans have to get used to unsexy names making big starts where Beckett once stood and getting big outs that Franklin Morales, who took Beckett's start Sunday in Chicago, once had to get out of the bullpen. And so on.
So how well equipped are the Red Sox to weather the storm? All things considered, not very well. Daisuke Matsuzaka's return was timed quite well to atone for Bard's plunge to Pawtucket. However, there's nothing to suggest things will remain static til Beckett is back.
In addition to Morales, here are some names you may be hearing about in the near future:
Aaron Cook: The veteran right-hander, who suffered a lacerated leg in his only start of the year for Boston, is close to beginning a rehab assignment. He earned a call-up earlier in the year in part because he went 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA for Pawtucket.
Justin Germano: A journeyman who owns a 5.50 ERA in 36 career major league starts, Germano may not be the most appetizing option on paper. But he is familiar with the big league landscape and usually throws strikes -- the 29-year-old has walked 10 in 83 innings for the PawSox this season, going 8-3 with a 2.49 ERA through Saturday.
Brandon Duckworth: He's 36, hasn't pitched in the majors since 2008 and has an ERA at Pawtucket over 4.00. Still, Duckworth, like Cook, has experience that will allow him to shrug aside the bright lights if and when his name is called. He's made 84 career starts in the majors.