The Boston Red Sox will try to dethrone the Toronto Blue Jays, the 2015 A.L. East champions. How do the teams compare as of today in terms of starting pitching?
The champions to the north dominated the American League East, winning the division by six games ahead of the second place New York Yankees. The Red Sox were in the basement by 15 games. However, most people forget that before the big trades that former Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos made after the All-Star break Toronto sat in second-to-last place in the division. That was with A.L. MVP Josh Donaldson. It wasn’t until August 12th that the Blue Jays took the top spot and barely ever looked back.
With 2016 spring training almost upon us, things have changed. Rosters have changed. Standings start at zero, again. It’s a fresh start.
However, it would be foolish for Red Sox Nation not to recognize the fact that Toronto is now the bench mark for success in the division. Just how do the Red Sox stand up against their standard? If Boston wants to see the postseason this year, the Blue Jays will be the team that they must get past to guarantee a spot at potential glory.
Let’s look at how the two rotations stack up:
Possible Rotation for the Red Sox:
Possible Rotation for the Blue Jays:
Well, let’s face it: the Red Sox reached into the Blue Jays organization and ripped their best arm off of them. Price may have stumbled in the postseason for Toronto, but he sure didn’t during the regular season. He went 18-5 with a 2.45 ERA last year, with a 9-1 record and a 2.30 ERA once dawning a Toronto uniform.
Mark Buehrle was their next best pitcher, with a 15-8 record, but that was his final season. Estrada poured it on in the second half of the season, especially during the postseason, but he admittedly struggled if Dioner Navarro was not his catcher. The two had great chemistry together that Estrada couldn’t seem to duplicate with Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin. Now, Navarro is on the Chicago White Sox, making some wondering how Estrada will do without him.
That leaves Marcus Stroman as Toronto’s new ace. While the StroShow is quite capable of dominating the competition, as he proved by earning a 4-0 record and a 1.67 after returning from a major injury early in the year, young Marcus will have to do much of the heavy lifting. With Chavez getting a fresh start in Toronto after a 7-15 record in Oakland, Happ returning after the Blue Jays had already deemed him expendable before, and Dickey being Dickey for 11 wins and 11 losses, Toronto will be nervous every time a pitcher not named Stroman is on the mound.
Not that it will be any different in Boston.
The names are pretty much the same for the Red Sox from last season, other than their ace, making Red Sox Nation nervous to have anyone other than Price on the mound. The hope is that Rodriguez will build on his success, and not tip pitches accidentally, to lower his 3.85 ERA in his sophomore season. If that happens and Kelly stays consistent, like the 8-0 record that he posted last August and September, then Buchholz’s health would be the only question mark from keeping Boston from having a solid starting rotation. That and which Porcello will appear: the one who posted a .547 win percentage for the Detroit Tigers or the 9-15 disaster in a Boston uniform.
Winner: Red Sox (on paper)
This decision is completely based on potential, and not at all on the nightmares that were seen last year in Fenway Park. If every man on the Red Sox starting rotation did what he is capable of, then the following rotation matchups should go as follows:
- Price over Stroman, in a low-scoring affair
- Buchholz over Estrada, with Estrada lacking the game-calling from Navarro
- Porcello over Dickey, if Porcello could bleed less runs than the aging knuckleballer
- Rodriguez over Happ, who was 4-6 with the Seattle Mariners before going 7-2 with the Pittsburgh Pirates
- Kelly over Chavez, if Kelly stays true to the end of last season and the fresh start for Chavez proves futile