No worries for Boston Red Sox rotation yet

Sep 14, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez (52) pitches during the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 14, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez (52) pitches during the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

Is it time to hit the panic button on the Boston Red Sox rotation? Another month will tell the story.

Sean O’Sullivan is heading back to Pawtucket as soon as he clears the ponderous DFA process and can get back into the PawSox rotation while he awaits more leaks in pitching staffs around baseball.

O’Sullivan is what he is and that is exactly why the Boston Red Sox signed him, despite his disaster in Philadelphia in 2015 (1-6, 6.07). Looking for a sliver of positive is the Red Sox won both his starts and O’Sullivan even managed to acquire another win in his statistical ledger – maybe his last?

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The Red Sox will not be a playoff team with a series of O’Sullivan’s dredged out from the minors or picked up on waivers after disappointing elsewhere, but they will not have that – not this season – unless further injuries intervene and gut the rotation.

I do have a tendency to dismiss certain aspects of baseball, and in the pitching equation, the Red Sox bullpen is one of them, since my own personal comfort zone is a happy place when discussing what has been assembled. Carson Smith, Craig Kimbrel, Junichi Tazawa and old friend Koji Uehara are solid – very solid.

"The only thing that matters in baseball is that little hump in the middle of the field – Earl Weaver."

In the House of Commons, there are front benchers and back benchers and the same applies to the bullpen. That is the second line of defense called in early or to offer some specialization. Do the Red Sox have the best? Nope. However, Robbie Ross, Tommy Layne, Heath Hembree and Matt Barnes have had more positive than negative moments. So the bullpen is not high on my pitching worry list and that means a quick two-step and back to the rotation.

Fans love numbers and so do I, as I anxiously await my next Powerball drawing, but the rotation numbers do not show a glaring deficiency, but some less than remarkable eye-catching numbers. Go traditional and the starters ERA is 4.81 or go metric and the xFIP is 4.10, or ninth among American League rotations.

For some, the real catch-all is WAR and the Red Sox rotation ranks eighth at 2.5. The BB/9 is an alarming 3.57 and that is 11th, but, hey – expect a precipitous drop now that Henry Owens has been exiled to Pawtucket. The K/9 is 8.71 and that certainly is inflated by the antics of David Price and his double-digit K performances.

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For point of reference, the Kansas City Royals – as in World Champions – finished 14th in AL rotation standings in 2015 and that fairly legitimizes the latest trend in building pitching from the back down, but the Red Sox do have some significant strength in the front lines.

Price, Rick Porcello and Steven Wright all appear to be either the real deal or at least quite dependable and that leaves two other slots in the rotation. If this was 1910 there would be no worries, as a three-man rotation would suffice for an entire season, but not in 2016.

The key to rotation survival is Eduardo Rodriguez and Joe Kelly and neither has been a pitching revelation so far. The fact is, E-Rod has been a mid-range disappointment in rehab and there is always the possibility we could be looking at Felix Doubront part II. Kelly just tore through ST and the last two months of 2015 were superior. What will we get? Both need to have a nice stretch between now and mid-June. If in that time frame neither perform then there is a whole lot of trouble in Red Sox Nation.

The Red Sox do have a real plus and that is a healthy stockpile of promising talent down on the farms that is almost ready for a baseball harvest. Teams are always willing to dump hefty payroll for the chance to pilfer Boston’s ever-growing minor league bounty. Dave Dombrowski – the resident baseball operations guru – certainly has no hesitation in tossing prospects to the baseball wind to seed elsewhere.

This fan is not in panic or full blown worry mode. No anxiety issues or troublesome tossing and turning over the rotation until a fateful mid-June date when we all can see just what metal this rotation is made of.

The key word with baseball that I have now tattooed on an unmentionable place is “patience.” Always be patient with players and especially pitchers who – may or may not – be baseball players. Good arms – think Clay Buchholz – do not necessarily come with stable minds and pitchers are a breed apart.

Next: O'Sullivan designated, Benintendi promoted

While the jury is out contemplating the pitching the offense has certainly made their case – nothing can make mediocre pitching look quite palatable than a clicking offense.