Photo credit: Kelly O'Connor

Photo credit: Kelly O’Connor

For a while there, the Red Sox starting rotation looked like it was finally figuring things out. In the weeks following the dismissal of pitching coach Juan Nieves, Boston starters amassed found themselves turning in quality starts, and near the top of the league in team ERA. Some credit the spike in performance to the axe falling on the highly regarded Nieves, while others saw new pitching coach, Carl Willis, as much needed new blood in the clubhouse.

Unfortunately, however, the Red Sox rotation’s performance earlier this month was not a sign of things to come, but a mere honeymoon from mediocrity. The team’s recent 1-6 road trip served as another chapter in what has been a frustrating 2015 season. Over the 7 game, 2 city tour, Boston starters held a 4.17 ERA mirrored by a 4.22 FIP, both of which grade among the 10 worst in the MLB in that span. Wade Miley and Rick Porcello each had outings in which they surrendered 6 runs against the Rangers and Twins respectively. Joe Kelly’s May 25th implosion in Minnesota also marred the Red Sox over the past week.

The Red Sox aren’t just having a bad week either. To expand on the numbers, the past 14 days have Boston starters posting a 4.60 ERA and averaging roughly 6 innings per start. Looking at their season statistics makes even the most optimistic Red Sox fan lose a shred of hope. The point is that the rotation problems are something that Boston must figure out quickly if they want to be anything other than dead weight in the American League East standings.

Let’s get this out of the way first: No matter how much tinkering the Sox do to their rotation, they will still need Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello and Wade Miley to pitch well. And honestly, those 3 guys are arms you can put your trust in to some degree. But guys like Joe Kelly, Steven Wright and (eventually) Justin Masterson, should all be on thin ice as starters.

Unless the team is invested in a 6 man rotation, which I don’t think they are, the starting core should have two spots up for grabs. To fill those spots, an arm like Eduardo Rodriguez would be the logical move to add some stability to the back end. As we all know by now, Rodriguez enjoyed a stellar major league debut last week against the Rangers, pitching into the 8th and allowing 0 runs on 3 hits. Aside from blanking the Rangers though, the 22-year old was dominating triple-A over his first 7 starts with the Pawtucket Red Sox.

To me, knuckle-baller Steven Wright has pitched well in three starts to warrant a more secure role in the rotation. As a starter this season, he’s thrown 17 total innings and sports a 3.71 ERA. But unless Wright is another Tim Wakefield, Phil Niekro or R.A. Dickey, his decline as a starter is inevitable. To make Wright’s stay in the rotation even harder to justify, triple-A southpaw Brian Johnson is basically kicking down the major league door after 10 triple-A starts. The 24-year old is fresh off an outing which featured 6 perfect innings, and his season numbers are only improving with every trip to the mound.

The only concern in adding Rodriguez and, eventually, Johnson to the starting staff is their progression. These two arms are guys that Boston has envisions as the future of the Red Sox, thus the team must be certain that they are ready to take the next leap forward. Before the start of the season, both southpaws had never pitched above double-A, which makes one question if their early domination of triple-A is a hot start. At any rate, a rotation of Buchholz, Porcello, Miley, Rodriguez and Johnson is one that could offer more stability than the team’s initial rotation.

  • Back in February, John Henry rightfully stated that the Red Sox, €œ”Play for championships”€. But after a 22-29 start, a championship has become an afterthought, and remaining relevant has taken over. (Red Sox know biggest loss would be relevance)
  • If you said in the beginning of the season that the only Red Sox worthy of All-Star game consideration was the team’€™s 40-year old closer, I’d call you crazy. But as we enter June, it’s the cold, cold truth. (Koji Uehara: Boston’€™s default All-Star)
  • But can he pitch?