BOSTON -- Only two teams, the Royals and Rockies, have had their relievers throw more pitches this season than the Red Sox, and just the Royals have gotten more innings out of their bullpen.
For Boston, the relief corps has been taxed, but it's also been effective. Since April 23, the Red Sox bullpen has a Major League-best 1.47 ERA in a Major League-high 73 2/3 innings. Still, Bobby Valentine isn't proclaiming the bullpen a settled matter.
"We've got guys who aren't battle-tested," the Red Sox manager said. "So we've go to figure out what they can do and how they can do it. Can Andrew Miller pitch three days in a row? We found out yes. That was the first time we've seen that. What kind of bounce-back capabilities does Rich Hill have after an injury [Tommy John surgery]? We're going to figure that out. And other little things like that. It's what a season is for."
Miller, a lefty, and righties Vicente Padilla (1-0, 5.40 ERA) and Matt Albers (0-0, 1.84) have been three cogs in front of Alfredo Aceves (0-1, 6.14 ERA) in the closer's role. Miller, who's a converted starter, has allowed just two base runners in five innings. He's unavailable Sunday after throwing three straight days.
"No, he's off today," Valentine said. "He can, he says he's all right. But he's not going to."
Aceves, who's known for a rubber arm, has also thrown three straight days, but wasn't ruled out. Padilla's thrown two straight days.
Padilla has inherited 11 runners and none have scored. No one else in the league this season has been given that many runners without letting in at least one run. He's been charged with just one earned run in his last eight outings, the type of performance everyone around him is also putting together.
Aceves, who has a high ERA on the season like Padilla, has just a 1.54 ERA in his last nine outings. Lefty Franklin Morales has been charged with two runs in his last eight outings.
And then there's always long-man Scott Atchison, who leads the Majors with 22 innings in relief. His ERA is 1.23.