Given the Red Sox pitching troubles last year, they were wise to stock up on starters going into this season. When talking starters it’s not a matter of if, but when they will go down. Starters will get hurt. Here’s a quick look at who we’ll be seeing on the mound once they do.
Jon Lester (LHP)
Age: 23
Stats: (MLB, 2006) 81.1 IP, 4.76 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 43 BB, 60 K, 1.40 K/BB (10.07 H/9, 0.77 HR/9, 4.76 BB/9, 6.64 K/9)
Previous Stint: (AAA, 2006) 46.2 IP, 2.70 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 25 BB, 43 K, 1.72 K/BB (8.29 H/9, 0.96 HR/9, 4.82 BB/9, 8.29 K/9)
Best Recent Stint: (AA, 2005) 148.1 IP, 2.61 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 57 BB, 163 K, 2.86 K/BB (6.92 H/9, 0.61 HR/9, 3.46 BB/9, 9.89 K/9)
Notes: He reported to Spring Training early, eager to contribute to the Red Sox now that he’s cancer free. Reports are that he’s in even better physical shape than he was before leaving the team last year. If you look at his numbers as he transitioned to AAA last year they would seem to indicate that he still needs time at that level. He kept his ERA below 3 but walked 4.82 batters every nine innings for a WHIP of 1.46. Lester had an ERA of 2.38 through his first 8 major league starts even though he was all over the place with his pitch locations. That he posted such a good ERA in both AAA and in the majors while suffering from major control issues is quite the testament to how good his stuff is. He has 2 low to mid-90’s fastballs with good movement, a plus changeup and a sweeping, dramatic curve. He’s never had spectacular control but his control should improve by more time at AAA. If he could get his BB/9 back under 3.5 at AAA he could most likely be very impressive if the Red Sox need to call him up.
Adam Bernero (RHP)
Age: 30
Stats: (MLB – KC, 2006) 13 IP, 1.38 ERA, 1.15 ERA, 0 BB, 12 K (10.38 H/9, 0 HR/9, 0 BB/9, 8.31 K/9)
Previous Stint: (AAA – PHI, 2006) 25 IP, 1.80 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 4 BB, 17 K, 4.25 K/BB (3.96 H/9, 0.72 HR/9, 1.44 BB/9, 6.12 K/9)
Longer Stint: (AAA – KC, 2006) 79.1 IP, 2.84 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 23 BB, 47 K, 2.04 K/BB (7.26 H/9, 0.57 HR/9, 2.61 BB/9, 5.33 K/9)
Notes: Prior to 2006, Bernero had made 6 attempts at the majors but none were more than moderately successful. Strangely enough, something changed in 2006 as he put up the best numbers he’s put up at any level while pitching both at the AAA and major league level. He’s similar to Chien-Ming Wang in that he pitches for the ground ball. So while he’ll never have low H/9 numbers, he can keep the ball in the park. His control last year was astoundingly good. Bernero features a low 90’s sinking fastball and a plus change. Even though he put them up at two different levels for two different organizations, his numbers could have been a fluke last year. If he does manage to maintain his numbers at AAA next year though, don’t be surprised if he’s the first guy called upon to help out in the majors. His ability to induce ground balls while at the same time allowing few base runners could be very frustrating the major league hitters.
Kason Gabbard (LHP)
Age: 25
Stats: (MLB, 2006) 25.2 IP, 3.51 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 16 BB, 15 K, 0.94 K/BB (8.42 H/9, 0 HR/9, 5.61 BB/9, 5.26 K/9)
Previous Stint: (AAA, 2006) 51.2 IP, 5.23 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 26 BB, 48 K, 1.85 K/BB (8.88 H/9, 1.39 HR/9, 4.53 BB/9, 8.36 K/9)
Best Previous Stint: (AA, 2006) 73.2 IP, 2.57 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 25 BB, 68 K, 2.72 K/BB (6.23 H/9, 0.49 HR/9, 3.05 BB/9, 8.31 K/9)
Notes: Gabbard won’t ever be an ace. He’s rather similar to Kei Igawa in that his fastball typically sits in the high 80’s and so he’s forced to rely on his breaking stuff. Gabbard has a plus change an an above average curve. He does however know how to pitch and isn’t scared of doing so on the biggest stage. He may be able to make effective spot starts but asking much more would probably be greedy.
Possible Second Half Reinforcements
Matt Clement (RHP)
Age: 33
Stats: (MLB, 2006) 65.1 IP, 6.61 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, 38 BB, 43 K, 1.13 K/BB (10.61 H/9, 1.10 HR/9, 5.23 BB/9, 5.92 K/9)
Previous Stint: (MLB, 2005) 191 IP, 4.57 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 68 BB, 146 K, 2.15 K/BB (9.05 H/9, 0.85 HR/9, 3.20 BB/9, 6.88 K/9)
Best Recent Stint: (MLB – CHC, 2004) 181 IP, 3.68 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 77 BB, 190 K, 2.47 K/BB (7.71 H/9, 1.14 HR/9, 3.83 BB/9, 9.45 K/9)
Notes: When I showed footage of Matt Clement pitching on my blog the other day, one person responded by claiming the footage should be a collector’s item it’s so rare. It does seem like quite some time since Clement has pitched. There really isn’t much to be excited about here. He was a good pitcher 3 years ago but since coming to the American League he’s walked a lot of batters and allowed a lot of runs. As far as pitchers go, the guy’s a mental case. Now coming off serious surgery there are doubts whether he’ll even pitch next year. We can only hope. Then maybe the Red Sox can file an insurance claim.
Clay Buchholz (RHP)
Age: 23
Stats: (Advanced A, 2006) 16 IP, 1.13 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 4 BB, 23 K, 5.75 K/BB (5.63 H/9, 0 HR/9, 2.25 BB/9, 12.94 K/9)
Previous Stint: (A, 2005) 103 IP, 2.62 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 29 BB, 117 K, 4.03 K/BB (6.82 H/9, 0.87 HR/9, 2.53 BB/9, 10.22 K/9)
Notes: This is another unlikely backup. Unless Buchholz develops rapidly or the Red Sox get desperate, he probably won’t see the majors next year. He has some serious “stuff” though and by all reports has nerves of steel. He’s one young stud to keep an eye on.