Bullpens can make or break a team. For most of this season the Boston Red Sox bullpen has been under a microscope, even though the team has won 98 games for just the sixth time in franchise history.

A team this good shouldn’t have fans this worried. And the worries are all about the bullpen.

Take last weekend. The Red Sox lost 2 of 3 games to the Astros at Fenway Park. Ten of Houston’s 16 runs came while Red Sox relievers were on the mound, including inherited runners.

On Friday, David Price was brilliant in his first game back since being hit by a line drive. When he left the game in the seventh inning the Sox had a 2-0 lead. They lost, 6-3.

On Sunday, Rick Porcello was pitching well until the sixth. He left the game with a 5-2 lead and two runners on base. Both came in to score. The Sox won on a Mitch Moreland walkoff but the bullpen didn’t build confidence along the way.

It shouldn’t be this way. The Red Sox have been cruising through the season and are closing in on the franchise record of 105 wins. Their bullpen has been good for most of the year, evidenced by the team’s 77-5 record when leading after six innings.

Things have changed of late. And suddenly Manager Alex Cora is trying to find out who will be dependable enough to get the ball in the pressure of October.

Last year Cora was the Houston bench coach and watched a complete reconstruction of the Astros’ bullpen in the postseason. In the playoffs Manager A.J. Hinch got 12 relief appearances out of Brad Peacock, Lance McCullers, Collin McHugh, Justin Verlander and Charlie Morton. Of that group, only Peacock had thrown out of the bullpen in the regular season – and he made more starts than relief appearances.

In the World Series, Morton pitched brilliantly as the Game 4 starter and left with the lead after giving up one run in 61/3 innings. In Game 7, he returned in relief and got the win with four innings of work.

Cora admits none of that was by design. Closer Ken Giles had an 11.74 playoff ERA so the Astros had to go in another direction. Houston figured it out on the fly and won a championship because of it.

You don’t have to look that far to see evidence of a starter’s influence in the bullpen. Price was Boston’s best reliever in last year’s playoff loss to Houston, throwing 62/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. He’s a starter but he had a bigger impact in relief.

Someone like Nathan Eovaldi could be in the bullpen from the start of the playoffs. It’s telling that Eovaldi will come in after Chris Sale’s anticipated two-inning start Tuesday night. This could be a harbinger of what to expect in October.

Eduardo Rodriguez also could pitch in relief. He’s had two starts since returning from the disabled list with mixed results. The Astros pounded him Saturday and afterward Rodriguez said he had no command of any of his pitches.

Maybe he could find that command in shorter appearances.

Steven Wright is another intriguing option out of the pen. He returned from two months on the DL with a pair of scoreless one-inning appearances. His knuckleball could baffle hitters in the middle of a game, and any flame-throwing reliever coming in after him will look like he’s throwing 140 mph.

It’s pretty clear this bullpen needs help. It’s also pretty clear that the pitchers we watched in relief over the weekend might not be the pitchers we see coming out of the bullpen in the playoffs.

Cora has three weeks to figure out what that bullpen will look like. It might be the most important task he’s faced in his first year as manager of the Red Sox.

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