|Yes, you throw it over there, Alfredo|
And you know he will be starting on May 1. You know either Bard or Felix Dubront are going to falter at some point. Or Buchholz or Beckett (or both) are going to go down with injuries. This is in an even year for Josh Beckett, so we might as well throw a broken mirror at him (it does have the ability to thin one out, after all), and hope he does not either 1) stink this year or 2) get seriously injured. But you know he's going to miss some starts due to ineffectiveness or due to a stint on the DL. Aceves is the 6th starter right now, but he will likely end up with more starts than everyone but Jon Lester this year.
His statistics bear out his importance to the team. Unbelievably let go by the Yankees after the 2010 season, Aceves, in four years, has a 24-3 overall record. He had a staggering (for a set up/middle relief pitcher) 2.9 WAR last year for the Red Sox, behind only Beckett and Lester (and ahead of Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard). His WHIP is barely above 1 for his career, and he has put up a 2.83 ERA in 240 innings pitching in one of the toughest divisions in baseball for 4 years. I cannot stress this enough - Alfredo Aceves needs to have a GREAT year, or the Red Sox hopes of making it into the playoffs will be dashed.
But back to the first question I posed. How did we get here? Aceves was drafted 10 years ago by the Blue Jays, but ended up pitching in the Mexican League for 6 years before having his contract bought out by the Yankees in 2007. After putting up some decent numbers for the Yankees in 2008-09, Aceves went down for the year with a shoulder injury and subsequently broke his collarbone riding his bike. Those kinds of antics don't sit well in New York and was released before the 2011 season. The Red Sox picked him up and became one of the team's most (or only) reliable pitchers down the stretch. Coming in to the 2012 season, I certainly thought he was going to be the fourth starter. But what do I know?
Now we are faced with the dilemma of a 30 year old (we think) journey man pitcher being jerked around while at the same time deciding the Red Sox's fate in this the 100th anniversary of the opening of Fenway Park. I try to put aside the comparisons to Ramiro Mendoza, but they are there.
photo courtesy of Zimbio