Can a 6-Man Rotation Work in Boston?


With word that the Red Sox have finally recalled pitcher Aaron Cook to their major league roster, the starting rotation just became much more complicated.  It appeared set that Cook was destined for the bullpen, something he hasn’t done on a regular basis since 2003.  But then manager Bobby Valentine overworked Josh Beckett in his last start, letting Beckett throw 126 pitches and now he has an injury to his lat muscle.  Good news for Cook as he will start in Beckett’s place but this has also allowed Bobby Valentine to toy with the idea of using six-man rotation.  Something that may not work in Boston.

Pitchers are creatures of habit and none more so than Jon Lester and Josh Beckett.  Both guys like their five day routines and when that gets disrupted it has shown in their next start in years past, Beckett more so than Lester.  Earlier this year Daniel Bard was bumped out of his spot when a game was rained out simply to keep Lester and Beckett on their regular routine.  It worked as both Lester and Beckett came out with quality starts.

A guy like Clay Buchholz who is struggling might benefit as will Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard.  With the young arms that haven’t built up the stamina and the concern over Buchholz, a sixth man will allow them the extra rest needed to ensure they have plenty of juice when they take the hill.

It’s understandable why Valentine and GM Ben Cherington are toying with the idea of a six-man rotation when the Sox schedule turns ugly with 20 games in 20 nights after the off-day on Thursday.  The extra arm of Cook could come in handy to allow all pitchers that extra day off to recover from what could have a huge impact on the outcome of the Sox season.

But your front two horses don’t do well when they are taken out of their normal routines.  If the Sox are to have any chance at making the postseason this year it will depend on how well Lester and Beckett pitch.  Getting them into a groove in May could go a long way to getting this team rolling into June and July before the dog days of summer are upon us.  If a sixth starter is added and throws off either of them, another month could come and go with this club hovering in the AL East basement.

This situation is brought on by Valentine’s inability to replace his pitchers in a timely manner.  Leaving the 31-year old in the game against the Chicago White Sox to throw his highest pitch total since 2004 was uncalled for and borderline crazy.  Now Valentine has to explain his reasoning behind the move and he better hope that Beckett only misses one start.  Otherwise he won’t have to worry about a six-man rotation and that won’t go over well without Josh Beckett in the rotation.

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