Who will be the odd man out of the Red Sox rotation? It’s a question the Red Sox are going to have to answer in the next couple of weeks as Eduardo Rodriguez and Joe Kelly are expected to be ready to return to the big league club. The Red Sox have seven starting pitchers who are capable of pitching in the big leagues. Rodriguez will likely be the first one back as he’s pitching in Pawtucket on Sunday and the expectation is that he will be activated on to the Red Sox roster for his next start. Unless Henry Owens shows us something spectacular in his next start or two, he’s going to be the first guy to be sent down. But, who’s next?
So, we know this. David Price, Rick Porcello, and Eduardo Rodriguez are all in the rotation assuming that they’re healthy. This leaves two spots for three players. Of course, this may work itself out in the next couple of weeks if there’s an injury or one of the pitchers pitches very poorly.
Let’s take a look at the options for the Red Sox #4 and #5 starters a couple of weeks from now.
Buchholz has the edge here especially after his strong performance on Wednesday Night. Buchholz pitched seven innings while allowing just two runs against the American League’s top team, the Chicago White Sox. We all know the story here. Buchholz can be very good in long stretches. He also can be very bad. And, of course, there’s the point that he’s very fragile and very rarely lasts a full season. Having said all of that, from a standpoint of who can put together a very good stretch right now, he is fully capable. Plus, there’s the factor of what do you do with him if he’s not in the rotation? He doesn’t have the make up of a bullpen pitcher. The only other option would be to trade him or release him. Trading him seems unlikely unless he puts together a good stretch and increases his trade value.
Five starts with at least six innings pitched allowing two runs or less in all five. A 1.67 ERA. At least 107 pitches thrown in every start. OK, enough of the numbers. Steven Wright has been outstanding so far. In fact, statistically, he’s been their best starting pitcher. Amazingly, he’s had very little run support. He plays on the team with the top offense in the American League. Yet, despite his numbers, he has a 2-3 record. Here’s the reality: This isn’t going to last. The question is can he be good enough to maintain his spot as a #4 or #5 starter. In other words, can he keep his ERA around 4.00 for a full season? Well, there’s only one way to find out! Wright is staying on for now and he’ll be in the rotation unless he struggles over a stretch. Then, this would be revisited.
We all know Kelly has a great fastball. The potential is there. However, at what point do the Red Sox say that potential needs to see itself through? The answer is this year. And the problem is he may not get the shot he needs in the rotation…at least not right away. While Red Sox fans put a lot of focus on the lack of durability from Buchholz, there has been few pitchers less durable than this guy. His career high in innings pitched is 134.1. He did show flashes of being very reliable late in 2015, but he started off this year throwing batting practice. Kelly would be an acceptable #5 starting pitcher at this point in his career. However, on this team right now, he may not get the opportunity. Here’s a guy you could move to the bullpen. It actually could help him considering his velocity. If he can open it up in 1-2 innings in spots, he could be dominant.
Red Sox Rotation on Memorial Day Weekend: 1. David Price 2. Rick Porcello 3. Eduardo Rodriguez 4. Steven Wright 5. Clay Buchholz
That’s a pretty good rotation with an elite lineup and bullpen. This is going to be a fun summer…