The 5th Starter is Becoming Clear For The Red Sox


There is just over three weeks of Spring Training left before the games count for real.  For some players and fans this is an eternity as they’re ready to start the regular season and start playing for something right now.  For others, including a handful of pitchers on the Red Sox spring roster, it isn’t enough time to showcase their stuff in hopes of making the 25-man roster and finding a home in the big leagues.

The Red Sox rotation is one of the biggest question marks surrounding the team this season.  We know the top three spots are locked down with Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and a healthy Clay Buchholz making up that trio.  Daniel Bard appears to be the fourth starter despite his humble answers after two consecutive clean outings on the mound.

The fifth and final spot, at least hypothetically, is still up for grabs and there as many as five pitchers still vying for the coveted rotation slot.  Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Miller, Felix Doubront, Michael Bowden and Aaron Cook are the leading candidates with Vicente Padilla, Carlos Silva, Jesse Carlson and Ross Ohlendorf considered outsiders.

Silva is all but out of the running after suffering a set back thanks to some inflammation to his shoulder, the same injury that has handicapped his career the last two seasons.

Carlson is scheduled to pitch on Monday but there are still question marks about his back issues and whether or not he’s 100% healthy.

Padilla is still in the running, but may be best suited for spot starts and long relief efforts.   AAA Pawtucket is also a likely scenario, at least for the start of the season.  The same can be said for Ohlendorf.

That leaves the fab five.  The proverbial front runners are Aceves, Miller and Cook, with Doubront and Bowden still a possibility, but the bullpen could be calling their name.

But now we hear that Aaron Cook is all but written off to fill the fifth spot.  At least that’s the indication Bobby Valentine gave when he talked about Cook’s latest spring training outing.

“Will he get enough innings to start in the major leagues at the beginning of the season? I doubt it. Seems he’s like he’s on a pace for 17-18 innings if all goes well. If we have the innings to give him, maybe, but I doubt it.” – courtesy of Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. 

That doesn’t sound good for the ten year veteran who was recently released from the Colorado Rockies before signing a minor-league deal with Boston.  Valentine was also quick to dismiss the idea of putting Cook in the bullpen to start the year.

“I’d like him to be a starter. He seems like a pitcher to me. If he has that sinker that he had yesterday (two innings, two walks) consistently he will contribute eventually at our place.”

So while Cook seems to be headed for Pawtucket, at least to start the year, we begin to have a more clear picture as to who is likely to snag the final spot and pitch every fifth day.

The finalists are in my opinion, Andrew Miller and Alfredo Aceves.  I’ve made it known that Aceves is most valuable out of the bullpen, which would leave Miller as the lone standing candidate.  Is it a comforting thought?  Not exactly. Maybe Miller can hang tough for his first few outings, gain some confidence and transition into a decent starter.  Throw in some spot starts for both Aceves and Padilla and suddenly the workload isn’t over bearing for Miller.

With three weeks of exhibition games remaining, anything is possible, especially with Bobby V calling the shots.  Maybe Aceves is the better way to go and restructure the bullpen accordingly.  So many questions and soon enough our answers will come.

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