Who’s the #2 starter going to be in the Boston Red Sox rotation this year? It’s an important question heading into Spring Training. The success of whoever it is may decide whether or not this will be a playoff team this year. When the Red Sox signed David Price, they got the clear-cut #1 starter that they needed and coveted. Price is a top five starter in the American League. You could make an argument the he tops this list as the AL’s best starting pitcher. Having Price at the top solidifies a rotation that was filled with middle of the rotation starters last year.
As we all know, it takes more than just one stud pitcher to make a rotation. The Red Sox have pitchers who have been or could be legitimate #2 starters. The question is will one of them step up and be just that this season? Is there another starter after Price in this rotation who the Red Sox can expect 12-15 wins from along with a respectable ERA in the mid 3’s?
Here’s a look at the candidates as a legitimate #2 starter on the Red Sox.
Same story. Different year. Buchholz has all of the talent needed and has proven he can even be a borderline #1 starter when he’s committed and healthy. However, he never is. Buchholz’ 3.85 career ERA is solid and he pitched very well last year going 7-7 with a 3.26 ERA. Like most seasons in his career, injuries cut his season short. He claims he believes he can pitch 200 innings this year. He never has. He’s pitched nine seasons. He’s 31 years old. This all is going to change now? The reality is Buchholz will likely be the Red Sox #2 starter on paper to start the season. But, him ending the season there seems unlikely considering his lack of durability. It’s unfortunate because he is a very good pitcher when he’s right. He would be a legit #2. Has there ever been a Red Sox pitcher with more proven ability to win at the MLB level that has disappointed more than Clay Buchholz?
Rodriguez is coming of a very solid first season in which he went 10-6 with a 3.85 ERA. At 22 years old, his potential is sky high. Rodriguez still has a lot to learn and he may not be ready to quite live up to a #2 starter type role to start the year. Having said that, he definitely could be capable of this towards the end of the season. He has the makeup of an elite MLB pitcher. The only thing standing in his way is time. He has a lot to prove this year and his ability to take the next step forward will be determined very quickly. Like Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts in 2015, another star may be on the horizon in Boston in Rodriguez.
Porcello disappointed last year after signing a four-year, $82.5 million contract extension. He was expected to be a solid #2 and he pitched like someone who didn’t even deserve to be in the starting rotation. However, in September, he bounced back and pitched very well. He had a 3.58 ERA in his last seven starts and pitched at least six innings in every game. These were the type of results the Red Sox expected when they signed Porcello. He’s normally a steady pitcher who pitches a lot of innings and saves the bullpen. He certainly has not proven he’s worth the money he’s being paid, but can he be a #2 starter? Of course. He won 10+ games six years in a row before joining the Red Sox. He’s only 27 years old. He’s just entering his prime. This is a big year for Porcello. He has big opportunity to step up. Expect bigger and better results.
Kelly is the least likely of the group to become a solid #2 starter. Like Porcello, he has proven that he is capable of putting up big numbers, but it just hasn’t been consistent. Kelly went 8-1 with a 3.77 ERA in the second half of the season last year. He throws as hard as any starting pitcher in MLB. He has the stuff to be an ace. He just hasn’t put it all together. He’s also 27 so there’s still time for improvement and hope. If Kelly is your #5, you’re happy. There is still a possibility of him becoming a guy who figures it all out.
The 2016 Red Sox rotation has a lot of question marks. With that said, there is also a lot of potential. Four of the five starters are in their prime and the 5th one is poised to be a top of the rotation starter. It will be very interesting to see which pitcher or pitchers in this group steps up and becomes reliable behind David Price. If none of them do, it could be another long year. If more than one does, get ready for baseball in October!
It’s great to write about baseball again.