Sunday September 12, 2010 | 08:32 AM

Before the season, the Red Sox seemed to be over-flowing with starters - Beckett, Lackey, Lester, Buchholz, Matsuzaka and Wakefield gave six proven starters, with Junichi Tazawa and Michael Bowden in Triple-A, and Felix Doubront reading to rise from Double-A.

Looking to next year, Boston will have the top five, but will Wakefield want to come back in his garbage-time role? Meanwhile, Tazawa has undergone Tommy John surgery. Maybe he'll be major league ready later in 2011.

Bowden has gone fulltime to the bullpen and will pitch in Venezuela this winter as a reliever. And the Sox are considering Doubront for a bullpen role, at least for 2011 because of the Red Sox woes in that area.

No other pitching prospects have emerged as viable major league alternatives as starters.

We look at that issue and others in today's column.

In the minors, the one Red Sox affiliate still playing, Greenville, has reached the South Atlantic League championship series, starting Monday. Greenville beat Savannah 5-4 on Friday. Chris Balcom-Miller, the prospect obtained from Colorado in the Manny Delcarmen trade, pitched five innings (4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 6 K).

In the Eastern League, Trenton and Altoona will begin their championship series  on Tuesday.

About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

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