With spring training a tight three weeks from today, Red Sox manager John Farrell has announced his rotation plans for the beginning of the 2014 regular season. This rotation features the same order as the Red Sox will throw this week, starting with today’s spring debut of top starter Jon Lester. Lester will be followed by John Lackey, Felix Doubront, Jake Peavy, and Clay Buchholz in that order in what shapes up to be a very strong opening rotation.
Putting Lester at #1 and Lackey at #2 was to be expected. The real shocker in this rotation order comes with the placement of Felix Doubront at #3 and Clay Buchholz at #5. Buchholz is coming off a season which saw him start only 16 games, but when healthy he was one of, if not the best pitcher in baseball– posting a 12-1 record and a microscopic 1.74 ERA.
The issue this year is not health for Buchholz, and according to Farrell there really is no issue with the lanky right-hander. Farrell cites Felix Doubront’s past performance against the Baltimore Orioles, whom the Red Sox will play in the opening series of the year, as the reason why he is in the #3 spot rather than Buchholz. It seems as though Farrell may be over-thinking things a bit, but all in all, it doesn’t matter. After all, the order of the pitching rotation is relatively meaningless outside of the postseason.
The combination of Buchholz-Lester-Lackey will likely give teams fits in a three-game series just as much as the combination of Lester-Lackey-Buchholz. And assuming health, this is a strong rotation regardless of the placement of Buchholz and Doubront. This is likely the order that we’ll see for the rest of spring too, so say goodbye to regular appearances by Boston’s top prospects. However, with this announcement by Farrell, we are one additional step closer to March 31 in Baltimore.