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Red Sox happy to have abundance of pitching

Red Sox happy to have abundance of pitching

BOSTON -- The Red Sox's starting rotation was glue in the postseason.

While the Sox were unsure what to expect out of Jake Peavy with his new arm slot and Clay Buchholz with decreased velocity, Boston's starters still posted a 3.29 ERA over 16 postseason starts, third best out of the 10 teams that participated in the playoffs.

In need of only four starters, Felix Doubront and Ryan Dempster were sent to the bullpen.

So what might happen next year, when the Red Sox will again have six experienced Major League starting pitchers under contract?

"Leading into Spring Training, we certainly subscribe to never having enough pitching," said general manager Ben Cherington. "Not knowing what could unfold next year early on if injuries start to hit, I've been in situations in the past where you can get a rash of them quickly. To be able to sustain that, we're always looking to maintain a full pipeline of arms coming through."

Jon Lester, John Lackey, Buchholz, Peavy, Doubront and Dempster leave the Red Sox stacked at the position, and the team's high priority on starting-pitching depth leaves it unlikely to trade a starter.

"If that means guys that have already debuted here and pitched successfully even for short stints, if they begin the year in Triple-A, that means we're stronger on the mound," Cherington said. "I just know going back to some of the conversations before the Trade Deadline, we wanted to preserve every arm and not give any arms up for that very reason. Nothing has changed as we approach that."

On top of a loaded staff at the Major League level, the Sox have an equally potent pool of pitching prospects in the Minors. Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Henry Owens, Trey Ball, Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaudo headline the list.

Brandon Workman and Drake Britton, who made the leap from Double-A to the Majors over the course of the 2013 season, have roles to be determined as well. Both were starters in the Minors but eventually settled into bullpen roles with the Red Sox.

"Brandon is a little bit unique in his situation, because he did both for us," said manager John Farrell. "If we were to poll 10 people within the organization, there might be a split camp on what role he's best served at. But the fact is he had success at both. As we look at improving the pitching staff, that also includes the six starters that Ben has already mentioned, you could see [Workman] occupying a spot in the bullpen. In the event of unforeseen injury, he's a guy I personally feel very comfortable with him stepping into the rotation."

Jason Mastrodonato is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @jmastrodonato. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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