Will former Houston closer Mark Melancon fill-in for Andrew Bailey?(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Nothing is official as of yet, but Andrew Bailey might be on the disabled list to start the season with the Red Sox. In standard mixed leagues, this isn't a huge deal unless things get iffy for him for an extended period of time. In AL-only formats, though, where you need all of the quality pitching you can get, missing out on Bailey could turn out to be a problem, even for just a few weeks.
Luckily, the Red Sox have multiple options to fill in for Bailey, should the need arise, that just might be available for you. And the group is comprised of capable pitchers who might be worth a roster spot in a deep AL-only format, anyway.
Vicente Padilla: Padilla missed almost all of 2011 due to neck problems that resulted in surgery, but he's back throwing gas for the Red Sox. They aren't using him in the rotation, though he's part of the collection of depth for that role, but will instead stick in the bullpen.
Padilla's career as a reliever isn't that impressive, but with his velocity, he's going to be better in that role than as a starter. As a temporary fill-in at the position, the Red Sox could do worse, especially if they would love to keep their other options in their more permanent roles rather than shifting everyone around to compensate for Bailey.
Alfredo Aceves: Aceves was fighting for a spot in the Red Sox' rotation, but those positions went to Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront. During the 2011 season, Aceves split his time between starting and relieving, racking up 114 innings, 90-plus of those out of the bullpen. This is one reason why the Red Sox would rather he stay in the pen, as he can be a monster that consumes innings at a time out there, but they also trust him with high-leverage spots -- look no further than September, where he threw 25 innings in relief as they attempted to keep their season alive. Given Aceves is a bit upset about not starting, it's easy to see a situation where Boston puts him in what's believed to be the bullpen's most important role for a few weeks.
Aceves isn't going to get you monster strikeout rates, but he throws strikes and has a sub-3.00 career ERA despite pitching in hitter's havens his whole career. It's just 240 innings, but his wide array of pitches and weak-contact approach have worked well for him to this point, and there's little reason to believe his strategy won't work in the future. FIP isn't always right, you know, and Aceves is the kind of pitcher who can often skirt around that stat's rules.
Mark Melancon: The most likely of the trio to closer in the short-term, Melancon was Houston's stopper last year, where he racked up 74 innings and a 2.78 ERA to go along with 20 saves. He's likely Boston's new Bard, coming in to the seventh or eighth when the Red Sox need to stop their opponents the most, but if Bailey is out either for two weeks or two months, he's the most likely to take over, given his previous experience with the job and the fact he's likely their next-best reliever.
He's also the most likely to already have been drafted, so it's going to be tougher to acquire him than it would Padilla or Aceves. Keep an eye on this story over the next week to see if Bailey ends up missing any time at all, or if you can safely ignore worrying and just keep on using the planned Red Sox closer.