A major league scout from a National League team watching the Red Sox earlier this week volunteered that he could see the Red Sox taking the same sort of leap forward that the Baltimore Orioles did a season ago.

The reason? Much like the '12 Orioles, who went from winning just 69 games (the same number of wins the Sox had last year) in 2011 to 93 wins and a playoff spot a year ago, the bullpen could be a key.

"(The Red Sox) have a lot of quality arms, a lot of options in that bullpen," said the scout. "That will allow (manager John) Farrell to match-up. And when you have a deep pen, it means guys like (John) Lackey only have to five or six innings."

The Orioles had only one starting pitcher reach double figures in wins -- rookie Wei-Yin Chen -- and the rotation ranked ninth out of 14 American League teams with an ERA of 4.42.

But the bullpen saved the team, ranking third in the A.L. with an ERA of 3.00, covering up a multitude of other sins.

The Boston bullpen is indeed deep, aided by the addition of closer Joel Hanrahan, obtained in a Janaury trade. Hanrahan's arrival pushes Andrew Bailey back to the eighth inning set-role.

Koji Uehara, one of the game's most consistent relievers in the last several seasons, and Junichi Tazawa, who blossomed in the second half last year while displaying closer-quality stuff, can also be used in the late innings. If Daniel Bard, returned to a reilef role after a disastrous and lost year as a starter, could return to his previous form, the Sox would have an excess of late-inning options.