Every team going into a new season always have question marks. For the Boston Red Sox, those question marks are in their starting pitching. After trading away Jon Lester, John Lackey and Felix Dubront last fall, and also trading away Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster this offseason, the Red Sox essentially had to piece together the rotation. Many people have concerns over the uncertainty of the Red Sox pitching, but should they be so worried?
Going into the season, the Red Sox “ace” will be Clay Buchholz. Now Buchholz has the stuff to be a number one pitcher on this team even though he is more of a number two. Injuries have always plagued Buchholz and many even question his commitment. This includes former teammate Curt Schilling who had some choice words on Buchholz.
“Well, I don’t think he wants to be one (ace),” Schilling said Wednesday in a conference call to promote ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. “I think there’s a level of commitment mentally and physically you have to have. You have to have a little bit of a dark side, I think, in the sense that losing has to hurt so bad that you do whatever you can do to make sure it never happens again. Clay is just kind of, ‘Hey, I’m going to pitch today.”
This could be just the motivation that Buchholz needs in order to truly step up for the Red Sox this season. When healthy, the Red Sox can rely on him to win them ballgames.
After that, the rest of the rotation are just more question marks. Rick Porcello is slotted in as the number two. Porcello was acquired by the Red Sox in the offseason for power hitter Yoenis Cespedes. He had a career-high in wins last season for the Detroit Tigers and with a dominant offense much like the Tigers, the Red Sox should provide him with plenty of run support.
Justin Masterson returned to the Red Sox after a six seasons away from the club. Masterson will be the third starter of the rotation with Joe Kelly‘s apparent injury. Masterson had a down year last year, with an ERA of 5.88 with both the Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Cardinals. As a quality ground-ball pitcher, Masterson will rely heavily on the defense behind him which should lead him to a bounce back season in Boston.
The real dark horse of this rotation is Wade Miley. Miley was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks for De La Rosa and Webster. He is good for 200 innings a year and will be a solid fourth option for the Red Sox. Miley also finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2012. If Miley can regain the form he had in 2012, perhaps he could be much more than a fourth option.
Joe Kelly will be slotted in the third spot but will most likely start the season on the DL. He went as far as saying he would win the AL Cy Young this season. As unlikely as that is, it is encouraging to have a pitcher with that much confidence. Before his injury, Kelly’s fastball was hitting high 90’s in spring training.
On paper the Red Sox pitching looks like they will struggle, but who’s to say it can’t be a good rotation? All of these pitchers have been good at points in their career. Yes, they aren’t flashy names but if they can get you wins than they can get you wins. People need to wait and see because the game of baseball is played on a diamond, not on paper.