Things are looking up…right?
The Sox, fresh off of a sweep of the Yankees and, with a ninth-inning victory against the Orioles last night, are now one game over .500 and within three games of first place. However, as much of a positive streak this has been, there are concerns abound. The biggest concern being the starting rotation, the gear that the machine revolves around. While offensive outbursts and late inning comebacks are great, they don’t happen all that often.
There has been plenty of coverage on the Sox rotation here at Fire Brand, and rightly so. While Jon Lester and Josh Beckett have been mostly brilliant this season, the remaining three rotation spots have been spotty at best. Clay Buchholz seems to be headed in the right direction, but John Lackey is now on the DL with “an elbow strain.”
The recent struggles of Lackey have been well documented. He has had issues both on and off the field. While those issues are sympathetic, games need to be won. Red Sox nation pays good money to see a winner and so has the Sox front office. Performance, as in all of our professions, counts, no matter the circumstance.
Personally, I feel horrible for Lackey. I won’t pretend to understand what is happening in his life or what he must be going through mentally. That being said, the show must go on. There are games to be won…or lost. So now, the Nation focuses on what’s next. Next, as far as the Sox rotation is concerned, is Old Man River, Tim Wakefield.
Wakefield will take Lackey’s spot in the rotation, for now. The 44-year-old has a 5.40 ERA, 5.25 FIP and has allowed four home runs in only 23.1 innings. No matter how much we appreciate what Wakefield has meant to this organization and even what he could mean to this current team, he is simply put, not the answer.
The problem is depth, or lack thereof. Felix Doubront is probably the next in line for a rotation shot, but he has not found success at the major league level yet and continues to rebuild his stamina at triple-A for now.
Having Lackey hit the DL is not a good thing, but perhaps it is only a temporary problem. Perhaps when he returns, he’ll pitch more like the pitcher Sox fans saw late last season. However, that still leaves us with the issue of Dice-BB.
That’s right, why call him Dice-K when he’s doing much more BB-ing than anything else?
Daisuke Matsuzaka walked seven, yes, SEVEN, while striking out only two in 4.1 innings last night. Sure, the weather was damp and cold, but who walks SEVEN in 4.1 innings? I wouldn’t even expect a low-A, non prospect to walk that many in 4.1 major league innings.
So far this season, Dice-BB hasn’t given Sox fans any reason to believe he’ll be anything more than a league average pitcher at best.
Between Lackey and Dice-BB, we have two huge question marks. The type of question marks that will probably need addressing (or replacement) at some point this season. Unless one of the two shows us a heck of a lot more in the next month or so, things could get ugly. I don’t mean ugly in the sense that the Sox won’t be contending, but rather that one of the two could lose their rotation spot, as crazy as that might sound. The Sox are in the business of winning and this organization has the trade chips to make a move if necessary.
21-and-20 is a positive, not quite the goal this team had set for itself for mid-May, but a positive nonetheless. The Lackey situation and the Dice-K situation are big concerns, but the offense is helping heal those wounds for now. At some point, the offense will be the gear that needs oiling. Will it be Lackey that steps up? Will it be Dice-K? Or will it be a drastic move by the front office? Only time will tell, but right now I’m actually thinking it might be the latter.