Red Sox line up rotation led by David Price
The Boston Red Sox have officially named David Price as their Opening Day starter, with the rest of the rotation behind him becoming a bit clearer.
No surprise here. The Boston Red Sox have officially named David Price as their Opening Day starter.
We had to wait until the start of the season was less than a week away before manager John Farrell made the announcement, but Price leading the rotation was never in doubt after the Red Sox inked him to a record $217 million contract. It’s the rest of the staff behind him that has been littered with question marks this spring.
Farrell shed a bit more light on the situation this morning, stating that Clay Buchholz is slated to start the second game of the season on April 6. The 31-year old pitched brilliantly in last year’s opener, tossing 7 shutout innings in a win over the Philadelphia Phillies, but has been too inconsistent and injury prone over his career to be trusted to anchor the rotation. Despite showing more of that inconsistency this spring, Farrell seems confident in Buchholz heading into the season.
"“I think he’s throwing the ball well,” Farrell said of Buchholz, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “He’s gained command of his secondary stuff the last three times out. You look at pitchers and you’re hopeful that their command and their execution of secondary stuff improves as you get deeper into camp. I think that’s happening for the most part with guys. We still have work to do in some areas, but in Clay’s case, he’s showing that.”"
Steven Wright appears to have locked up the No. 5 spot in the rotation, at least until Eduardo Rodriguez is ready to join the rotation sometime around the end of April. That should give Wright at least a few starts in the rotation before he’s likely moved to the bullpen, since he’s out of options to be sent back to Pawtucket.
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That leaves Joe Kelly and Rick Porcello to fill in the No. 3 and 4 spots in the rotation, but Farrell has yet to commit to which order they will be slotted in. All he has said on the matter is that the decision would be based on who was pitching better heading into the season, which by all accounts would point to Kelly. The 27-year old has been the team’s best starter this spring, posting a 1.35 ERA and striking out 18 batters in 20 innings.
Meanwhile, Porcello has been a mess this spring, coughing up a team-high 17 earned runs to produce an ugly 9.77 ERA. There was hope that Porcello could be in line for a bounce-back campaign given the improvement he showed down the stretch last year following his return from the disabled list, but he has yet to show it heading into this season.
Seems pretty obvious that Kelly is going to be the No. 3 guy in the rotation, right? He’s certainly earned it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right choice for the team. Believe it or not, the reasons for slotting Porcello third have nothing to do with the shame of paying a pitcher $20 million to fill in near the back of the rotation. Lining up Porcello in the No. 4 spot means he’ll debut in Toronto, where he is 1-5 with a 7.39 ERA over five career starts. If the Red Sox are hopeful that he can get off to a better start this year then it would be wise to have him pitch in Cleveland, where he owns a 2.84 ERA over 12 career starts.
Given that Kelly has been significantly better thus far, it makes sense to start him against the stronger Blue Jays lineup in a game against a divisional opponent.
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Kelly and Porcello both have one more start on the spring schedule, but barring injury it doesn’t seem feasible for Porcello to overtake Kelly no matter how well he pitches. We’ll have to see if Farrell sticks to his comments about going with the hot hand or if he’ll consider the match-ups when making this decision.