The Boston Red Sox made early splashes this offseason, signing free agent sluggers Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez to help bolster their anemic offense that helped guide their last place finish in 2014. This year, their lineup looks much more menacing with Hanley and Kung Fu Panda protecting stalwarts David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli.
The Red Sox seemed to be ready to dominate the hot stove, and then they whiffed on Jon Lester, losing out to the Cubs. They responded quickly, snagging many lower-level pitching options and filled their rotation rather quickly, trading away Yoenis Cespedes (who they had an immediate replacement for anyway) for Rick Porcello and trading a trio of unestablished players for Wade Miley. They grabbed Justin Masterson off the wire, presumably finishing off their 2015 rotation, with those 3 joining Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly.
Is that really the rotation of a division champion? In the always-tough AL East?
Well, for starters, they lack a true ace. Sure Clay Buchholz has shown a lot of promise in the past, but is he a guy you want leading your staff? His inconsistencies are well documented. He’s posted 5.34 and 4.56 ERAs in 2 of the past 3 years, with an injury-plagued, though great 2013 sandwiched in between. Buchholz has never tossed 200 innings in a season, and he’s only made more than 16 starts three times in his 8 year career. His phenomenal All Star season (17-7, 2.33) of 2010 keeps drifting further into the distance, and there are some serious question marks surrounding Boston’s likely opening day starter.
Rick Porcello, the likely number 2 guy, is coming off a career year with Detroit. His overall numbers were modest (15-13, 3.43) but was dominant at times and tossed 3 compete game shutouts. He appeared to finally figure things out in his age-25 season, which is a plus for a guy with a career 4.30 ERA. He’s still young and has 6 full years of big league experience under his belt, so he could be a candidate for a breakout season. The problem here is not Porcello himself, but the fact that he projects as their number 2 starter.
Wade Miley appeared to be heading towards ace status after his All Star 2012 rookie season, but has since regressed in both of his last 2 years. He struggled pretty mightily at times in 2014 but still managed to toss 200 innings. If the Red Sox can get 2012 Miley (16-10, 3.33) instead of 2014 Miley (8-12, 4.34), they’ll be in excellent shape, but it will mean he will have to reverse the trend he has been heading in. Either way, Miley still projects as a solid number 3 starter.
Then, it gets a bit more messy. Justin Masterson projects as a starter, and he’s coming off a year where he was one of the worst pitchers in all of baseball. He posted a 7.04 ERA in 9 appearances after being traded to the Cardinals, and he wasn’t much better with the Indians. He’s been an All Star in the past, but taking a flyer on him seems more fitted for a team in desperate need of help as opposed to a team that has aspirations of going back to the World Series.
Lastly, Joe Kelly appears to be the favorite to grab the 5th rotation spot. He’s never pitched more than 124 innings in his brief career. While he claims he will win the Cy Young this year, his career stats don’t show much evidence to support him, and his low strikeout rate could hamper him over the course of a season.
The Red Sox will score runs this year. Their lineup should be fantastic. On paper, they should be able to compete in the East based off of their offense. But, with all of the question marks in their lineup, all the inconsistencies they’ve had from all 5 projected starters, and their complete lack of a true ace, there’s slim chance that the Red Sox have a rotation that can compete with their AL East competition. They’re going to have to hope their offense is fantastic throughout the season. In the MLB, you don’t go far without pitching
The Sports Journal