Beat the Yankees to the punch? Check.

Solidify your already-solid bullpen? Check.

Avoid mortgaging a big chunk of your future? Check.

Address a possible problem? Check.

Yep, Theo Epstein broadcast to the world the apprehension he has with the starting rotation by the addition of Eric Gagne on July 31.

He didn’t say it an interview. So don’t start Google-ing it.

It’s called writing on the wall.

Epstein has access to his starter’s stats over the past 30 days, and they are somewhat alarming.

So, a dependable arm like Gagne’s was needed in the bullpen.

Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka both sport sub-.500 records over the past month, with each tallying a 2-3 record. Beckett’s ERA is a respectable 3.50, but Matsuzaka had a 4.60 ERA and averaged less than six innings per start.

The best starter over the past month? Kason Gabbard, and he’s gone now.

But, Epstein knew that his best shot at holding off the Yankees was to make his bullpen unhittable because he can’t count on Curt Schilling coming back at full strength or Jon Lester being able to average six innings per start.

Not to mention, Tim Wakefield may sport a 5-1 record over the past 30 days, but his ERA is a gaudy 5.21, which will lead to losses come late August and throughout September.

Lets say, for argument’s sake, that the Red Sox only asked their starters to make it through five innings each time out (which should be doable), the Sox are now stacked in the pen, with the re-emergence of Mike Timlin (perfect over the past month), Hideki Okajima (an ERA barely over 1.00), Javier Lopez as a lefty specialist, Gagne and Jonathan Papelbon closing the door.

This should allow the Sox to avoid using youngsters Manny Delcarmen or Kyle Snyder is high-pressure situations down the stretch, which may be wise when the race promises to be tight.

The Sox bullpen didn’t need Gagne, but the starting corps did. They needed a safety net, because there are too many question marks. Are Lester and Schilling really healthy? Is Beckett overworked? Are hitters figuring out Matsuzaka? Is Wakefield’s knuckler a liability during the summer? Can Tavarez do the job if Schilling doesn’t regain his health?

One man helped put those questions on the backburner.

Now, if you are a Red Sox fan, you just have to hope Gagne can stay healthy.

But, that’s a conversation for another time and in another column.

For now, applaud Epstein for a bold move that helped fix a looming problem.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.