The Boston Red Sox could potentially have one of the better starting rotations in baseball this season, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. Jon Lester is really the only starter that fans should be comfortable with. His only bad season was the disaster ’12 campaign in which he posted a 4.82 ERA and he has started over 30 games every year since ’08.
Clay Buchholz should be the number two starter, but he could end up as the number five. His injury history and inability to pitch at his best for extended periods of time make it tough on Sox management to throw him out there for all of his starts, hoping that he feels good after the game. It’s unfortunate because he has better stuff than Lester and could easily be an MLB ace if he could stay healthy.
Similar to Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals’ problems in the past, the Red Sox may need to “baby” Buchholz this season in an attempt to keep him healthy. The thing is, how much would starting him fifth really matter? Sure, he might get to skip a start here or there, but he would still be on pace to start 25 games or so, a feat he has only done twice so far in his career. Perhaps he should start the season on the DL and stay fresh for the stretch run. He doesn’t exactly have the heart of a warrior, so we shall see just how his season unfolds and how manager John Farrell decides to use him.
John Lackey was great last year in his comeback campaign, but has looked lackluster at best this spring. He and Felix Doubront have both posted ERAs in the nines so far, but they can easily turn around and have great seasons. Lackey is 35 though, so perhaps his arm is on the decline. Last year was his best statistically since ’07 with the Angels, so it may be hard to ask him to repeat his performance.
The prospects that had hoped to boast their potential this spring were all quite underwhelming. Every one of the bunch, including Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster, and Henry Owens, all posted ERAs over five. This doesn’t exactly give the Sox much faith in their young arms if they need to call a pitcher up for an extended time. Brandon Workman hasn’t look great either and it is still unclear whether he will make the opening day roster.