Boston Red Sox: No Shelby Miller, no problem

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Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

1) Eduardo Rodriguez

Rodriguez is the most glaringly obvious candidate here and for good reason. Often you’ll hear him described as a future number 1, a top of the rotation potential, an ace in waiting. Of course, that’s all talking about the future and says little about his pitching ability now, at the tender age of 22. I see no reason that, in lieu of being that future number 1, he can’t be a present number 2.

It’s difficult to look at Rodriguez’s 2015 and take it at face value, it was literally characterized by rookie mistakes in a rookie season. We had several games early on that saw Rodriguez get lit up because he was tipping pitches, this would take time to rectify and would ultimately sour his numbers, but not his year as a whole. In 12 games out of 21, he gave up only 1 run or less. In only 4 games he gave up more than 3 runs. Guess the games he was tipping his pitches? Yep.

Even with the outings he bombed, Rodriguez put up solid numbers not a far cry off what 25 year old Miller, in his fourth year in the Majors, put up. Rodriguez finished up with an ERA of 3.85 and FIP of 3.92 to Miller’s 3.02 and 3.45 respectfully. Rodriguez had a K/9 of 7.25 and Miller, 7.50. It seems Miller edges it, but consider that Rodriguez is putting up those numbers in the American League, hitter heavy and home of the DH, and you realize that if anything it’s Miller who is struggling.

In many ways however, the two are similar. Both have a fastball that averages around 94 MPH and can touch 97 and above. Both are young and will ultimately get better. And, to that end, both are slotted in behind solid, veteran number 1 pitchers (in Miller’s case, newly acquired ace Zack Greinke) who will, it would be hoped, give them the push to reach their potential. Miller pitched more innings, 205 vs 139, but that’s understandable given Rodriguez’s delicate age.

So there’s not an awful lot between them at present and, it’s my belief in the future Rodriguez will step into his own. With Price helping him, he will only get better and that could start as early as next year. While the Diamondbacks had to send Inciarte (he of .303/.338/.408 line and golden glove caliber outfield defense last year) and flush their number 1 overall draft pick away for Miller, the Red Sox acquired Rodriguez for a half a year rental of closer Andrew Miller and, perhaps more clinically, they have him under team control for a lot longer.

It’s my belief that Rodriguez can step up next year and deliver even more consistently than this year. Much like Chris Archer and Marcus Stroman before him, he stands to grow under Price’s leadership and tutelage and, assuming all goes according to plan, he could well be the number 2 that Boston needs until he’s ready to take over the reins at the top.

Next: 2 - Clay Buchholz