Pitching has been the biggest problem for the Red Sox in recent years. Nobody can deny or argue with that, as the Red Sox have lacked a truly deep rotation ever since the big winning ball-clubs of 2007 and 2008. Starting pitching looks like it may be the weakness of the Red Sox again in 2013, but if one looks past the starting five pitchers, the Red Sox actually have depth this year. The past two seasons, the Red Sox have had to call on Aaron Cook (18 starts), Daisuke Matsuzaka (18 starts), Daniel Bard (10 starts), and even Kyle Weiland (5 starts) to make a combined 51 starts. 51 starts is about one third of a season, and so over the last two seasons, about one sixth of the starts have been occupied by pitchers who never should’ve even made the team to begin with.
Injuries obviously happen, and almost every team will have to rely on more than five starting pitchers the entire year. It’s very unlikely that we’ll see Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront, and John Lackey making every single start in 2013. If they don’t, however, the Red Sox will be in a much better place than they’ve been the past few years. The Red Sox’ revamped farm system plus the Dodgers trade is finally starting to produce some impact prospects, including pitchers like Rubby de la Rosa, Allen Webster, Matt Barnes, and Brandon Workman, all of whom could contribute in 2013.
Workman and Barnes aren’t in big league camp, but Webster and de la Rosa have really made names for themselves this spring. De la Rosa struggled in yesterday’s loss to the Marlins, but has shown some great stuff this spring save for a couple of rough outings. Webster, on the other hand, has been nearly flawless. He allowed just an unearned run on three hits while striking out three today, and has a 1.64 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 11 innings this spring.
If the Red Sox suffer from injuries to their starting rotation, it’s likely to be Webster or de la Rosa as the first to be called up. Both should begin the season at Triple-A Pawtucket and will more than likely see Fenway Park before season’s end. Even if big league results aren’t fantastic for these two phenoms, it’ll be much more fun to watch them than the mediocre stuff of Aaron Cook and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
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