Predicting Red Sox Spring Training Positional Battles

Rotation

Duane Burleson/Getty Images North America

Duane Burleson/Getty Images North America

#1 Starting Pitcher: Clay Buchholz

Sort of the ace by default, Buchholz was anything but in 2014. The 30 year old Buchholz was surprisingly healthy, but pitched to a 5.34 ERA and was one of the major contributing factors in Boston’s first to worst slide. But in 2013, Buchholz was only able to make 16 starts due to injuries, but was able to compile a 12-1 record with a 1.74 ERA. Those look like ace numbers to me.

But should he falter, Buchholz will likely be held on a short leash. He will have to prove his mettle to the club, or else they will almost certainly buy out his $13 million option for 2016. And if he really struggles? It wouldn’t surprise me if they got him out of town before then to provide one of their three left handed pitching prospects with a chance to audition for a spot in the 2016 rotation.

#2 Starting Pitcher: Rick Porcello

The big fish Cherington reeled in for the rotation is surely the 26 year-old Porcello. Acquired from Detroit for Yoenis Cespedes, Porcello experienced something of a breakout year in 2014. His career best 3.43 ERA pitching in front of a finally adequate Tigers defense showed the Red Sox what Porcello was truly capable of.

Drafted as a high school pitcher, Porcello was actually projected to be a future ace and began his big league career at the young age of 19. Porcello too will be a free agent after the year but look for the club to get a big extension done with him sometime this year. This is a player who could stick around awhile.

#3 Starting Pitcher: Justin Masterson

Cherington clearly picked out his pitchers based on two criteria: ground ball specialists (like Porcello), and those likely to bounce back after a season of bad luck or injuries. Masterson falls into the latter category, signed to a one year make good contract worth $9.5 million with the organization that drafted and groomed him.

Masterson was an ace for years with the Indians and Cherington is hoping that Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves will be able to work out whatever kinks hindered the 29-year-old in 2014. If he can return to form, Masterson has as good a shot as any to ultimately be the ace of the bunch.

#4 Starting Pitcher: Wade Miley

An All Star and runner up to the Rookie of the Year (Bryce Harper) in 2012, Miley is another ground ball pitcher with a history of significant success. Acquired from Arizona for Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa, Miley’s 3.15 ERA in 2012 ballooned to 3.98 in 2013 and 2014. The Red Sox are hoping to find a middle ground, having just extended the lefty on a three year, $19.25 million deal.

#5 Starting Pitcher: Joe Kelly

Kelly is a hard throwing 26-year-old who could very well wind up in the bullpen. He’s got a nasty sinker that he relies upon heavily, but will have to further develop his repertoire of pitches to stick in the rotation. He’s got the power for it, and as one of the main pieces returned in the John Lackey trade, the Red Sox are counting on it.

Just Missed: Eduardo Rodriguez, Brian Johnson, Henry Owens

6 Responses

  1. sparkyII

    I must say this was the best YB article I have enjoyed to date. Too bad the Sox can’t keep all of those players mentioned in this run down but hey, it looks to be a great trade line up. I along with many Sox fans will be disappointed to see some of our favourites not on the roster come April but that’s baseball. It don’t get any better than this.

    Reply
    • Ryan Hathaway

      Wow that is tremendous praise, thank you very much I’m happy you enjoyed my piece. It was an exciting winter and I can’t wait for this season to get started but it’s also quite exciting to remember how much flexibility this team has in both this season and beyond. There are so many trade possibilities and so many prospects that can be plugged into this team if it doesn’t work. It’ll be interesting to see how it shakes out and you’re right, it really doesn’t get any better than this!

      Reply
      • sparkyII

        I wasn’t expecting a response from you but I’m glad you did. It’s nice to know some writers do indeed follow up by reading comments from the readers. I will be following you throughout the season so keep up the good work.
        One other thing, I predict the Sox, Cole Hammels, and the Phillies will come to terms by the end of March if not sooner. What’s your thoughts?

      • Ryan Hathaway

        Again appreciated, seeing a comment at the bottom of my posts is one of my favorite aspects of this job.

        For me, too, Hamels or another pitching addition seems quite likely. Though I’m not sure it will happen by March. I think that Amaro and Cherington are in a stand off and I think that either Amaro will budge or Cherington will move onto someone else like Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, or Doug Fister sometime before the deadline.

        In terms of a spring training trade, I actually think it is more likely the team takes a look at Cliff Lee if he proves healthy.

      • sparkyII

        You’re probably right on the trade dead line, I’m just getting anxious, but I keep thinking the Phills are a lot more desperate than they let on. Getting rid of Hamel’s contract and adding a top prospect is better than playing in limbo for another year. I wonder how the Philly fans will react to the stalemate their team is in and how long their GM will keep his job under such pressure.

      • sparkyII

        One other thought: the Sox have been interested in Cole Hamels for a long time and he would be much more affordable than Zimmerman and the others you named. One top prospect and two prospects of lesser value would or should be enough to make this deal happen. It would be to the
        Sox advantage to have Hamels in ST along with the rest of the team

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