Red Sox Have 2nd Best Rotation in AL East

At least according to Steve Melewski of they do.  In an article where Melewski ranked the AL East starting rotations, he penciled the Olde Towne Team’s rotation only second to the Tampa Bay Rays.  The New York Yankees were ranked third, which will likely surprise many people, followed by the Toronto Blue Jays.  The lowly Baltimore Orioles were last, a spot they should get comfortable with.  While the Jays are close to contending, their pitching is still young and perhaps a little thin on the back end.  For now we’ll focus on the top three.

It’s no surprise that the Rays were ranked number one.  In all honesty they have one of the best rotations in the game and if rookie Matt Moore can live up to they hype, they may turn into the single best rotation, hands down.  James Shields, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore are the front four and all are 30-years old or younger.  Shields is the elder statesman of the four, having just turned 30 in December.

When you have Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann battling it out for the final spot on the rotation, you know you are deep with pitching.

So the Rays are the obvious choice at number one.  The battle for second place is really between the Red Sox and Yankees and after the Bronx Bombers signed Hiroki Kuroda and traded for Michael Pineda, many had the Yanks with the superior rotation.  But was this more of because of the way last year ended for Boston and not so much what the Red Sox have on paper?  It appears so.

When you compare the top three pitchers on each club the edge goes to Boston and Melewski agrees with that.  Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, when healthy, are one of the top trios in the game.  The Yankees top three consist of CC Sabathia, Kuroda and Pineda.  Still a great trio to have, but when you take into account how the Red Sox owned Sabathia last year, it adds a little skepticism to the conversation.  Going 1-4 against the arch rivals has surely planted some doubts in the mind of the Yankees’ ace.  Unless he comes out this year with all guns a blazing and paralyzes the Sox in multiple outings it’s hard to shake the reminder of what the Red Sox offense did to him in 2011.

Kuroda is a wild card at this point.  At 37-years of age he’s only a four year veteran of the MLB and those years were spent in the NL West where pitcher friendly ballparks are common.  Throw in the less offensive lineups that the NL West provides compared to the AL East and Kuroda will be tested early and often in New York.

Pineda was brought to New York with the possibility of being slotted as the number two arm.  But an extra twenty pounds this off season and a dramatic drop in his fastball velocity has many wondering if the young phenom is ready and mature enough to step into that limelight.

All health issues aside for all pitchers discussed and the edge goes to Boston.

But it’s a long season and the number four and five pitchers are possibly the most valuable starters in terms of carrying their share of the workload, reducing the stress on the top three.

Boston’s final two spots are up in the air.  Daniel Bard looks poised to grab one spot and then it’s either Alfredo Aceves, Felix Doubront or Andrew Miller.  The Yankees have the young and talented Ivan Nova and either Phil Hughes or Freddy Garcia as their number five guy, with Garcia coming off a nice 16-win campaign.

Based on the uncertainty of transitioning Bard or Aceves, or both to a starting role, the Yankees have the edge here simply based on Nova showing tremendous ability and having either Hughes or Garcia to round out the rotation.  Nova is still young and the verdict is still out on him after he struggled to maintain his torrid pace that he got off to at the start of last season.  Aceves and Bard haven’t proven they can live up to the starting role, giving them less credit.

When you take into account all five potential starters for both clubs, the Red Sox have the better rotation.  The Yankees, like the Red Sox have many questions about their rotation and should find answers to most of them by the end of March.

Of course if Beckett can’t get let go of last year and decides to let his ego take over then the Sox are in serious trouble.  So far, all indications point to a renowned Beckett, along with the rest of the starters giving the Red Sox a loaded rotation.

In my mind Melewski nailed this ranking. One through five makes perfect sense to me.  What are your thoughts on the ranking of the AL East rotations?

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Tags: Alfredo Aceves Baltimore Orioles Boston Red Sox C.C. Sabathia Clay Buchholz Daniel Bard David Price Felix Doubront Freddy Garcia Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova James Shields Jeff Niemann Jeremy Hellickson Jon Lester Josh Beckett Matt Moore Michael Pineda New York Yankees Phil Hughes Tampa Bay Rays Toronto Blue Jays Wade Davis

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