The MLB postseason is just five weeks away. The Red Sox are holding the top wild card spot in the American League, a position they have earned with an offense that has scored more runs than any other team in baseball. Additionally, Boston’s starting rotation has evolved into one of the best in the game since the All-Star break.

That should be enough to give a team a healthy lead in the division, but thanks to a faulty bullpen the Sox will be fighting tooth and nail down the stretch.

How to fix the pen? Glad you asked. Here, completely unsolicited, are the steps I would take to settle things down in the final innings over these final weeks of the season.

1. Give players defined roles. Manager John Farrell has tried to coax the most out of his bullpen by bringing in the pitcher who appears to match up best with the batter or batters due up that inning. It hasn’t worked. The best bullpens have pitchers with clearly defined roles. We know Craig Kimbrel is the closer and will pitch the ninth. Who is pitching the eighth? The bullpen has had a revolving door in that inning for the past month.

2. Make Clay Buchholz the eighth-inning pitcher. Buchholz has walked through the valley of darkness as a Sox pitcher this season. He was brutal as a starter for the first half of the year, and endured the booing of fans and the calling for his release. Then he became a relief pitcher, and suddenly things clicked. The 10-year veteran stopped thinking too much about hitters’ tendencies and more about his own success. I spoke with him last week and he says going to the bullpen completely changed his mindset. He attacks hitters now, and is Farrell’s best option in the eighth.

3. Let Brad Ziegler pitch clean innings. Ziegler, at his best, is a ground-ball pitcher who makes quick work of an inning. The issue is that ground-ball pitchers are pitching to contact. He’s not a strikeout guy, despite the night he struck out three Diamondbacks with the bases loaded at Fenway. He needs a margin for error – not men in scoring position who will come in if one of those ground balls finds a hole between two infielders. Let him come in to start the seventh or, when Buchholz is unavailable, the eighth. He was a closer in Arizona. He can handle late-inning pressure.

4. Keep Robbie Ross Jr. in the late-inning mix. His control issues can be alarming (no reliever has hit more batters than Ross) but he’s their best lefty in the pen. When you’re facing a predominantly left-handed team let Ross come in for the seventh. Lefties see Ziegler’s sidearm offerings too easily. Ross is a better option.

5. Bring Joe Kelly up and give him a meaningful role. He’s been terrific in Pawtucket and throws 100 mph. He’s got swing-and-miss stuff. He’s the guy I want coming in with men in scoring position and a lead. It would have been nice to have him available Sunday night when Eduardo Rodriguez left the game in the sixth with the bases loaded. Instead, Matt Barnes came in and allowed all three runners to score. And five more after that.

6. Use the expanded roster for bullpen depth. This is obvious, but bring up Heath Hembree, Noe Ramirez, and William Cuevas and let them come in to one-sided games. Buchholz and Ziegler pitched with a six-run lead Saturday night. Save them for the tight games.

7. If someone fails, put him in the back of the pack. Barnes’ struggles Sunday night don’t mean he will never be a good reliever. He might be hitting a late-season wall in his first full year as a relief pitcher. Yet this is a playoff race. Let others step up and work when you have a lead late. If they fail, the “next man up” theory applies. For now, Junichi Tarawa and Fernando Abad are at the back of the pack.

It’s going to be a wild ride, and October baseball is a very real possibility for the Red Sox once again. They’re going to need a strong bullpen to get there. Over the next five weeks, roles will have to evolve if the Sox hope to evolve as a true contender.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.