Red Sox vs. Indians Roster Breakdown: Starting rotation comparison
Rounding It Out
Steven Wright/Eduardo Rodriguez
With the back end of the Boston rotation under considerable uncertainty, it’s impossible to tell who’s going to be the odd man out. Given that young lefty Rodriguez is the only of the three with a minor league option remaining and knuckleballer Wright can be unpredictable, it could very well become a competition between these two pitchers. So, for the sake of the article, we’re going to take both into account.
Luckily for the Red Sox, this is a good problem to have, because both starters carry significant upside for a potential No. 5 starter.
Wright, as many forget, was voted into the All-Star game in 2016 on the heels of a 114 inning run of first half dominance, chalking up a 2.68 ERA and a .225/.305/.322 opposing slash line. Aside from the occasional rainy conditions that make it difficult for a knuckleballer, Wright was as steady as they come before manager John Farrell made perhaps the most boneheaded move in recent memory by pinch running the righty in a game against the Dodgers. Wright would injure his shoulder and lose effectiveness before losing the rest of the season.
Rodriguez had the opposite season, having started the season shelved with a lingering knee injury before slumping to a nightmarish 8.59 ERA in six first half starts. Once the health problems subsided and mechanical issues were fixed, E-Rod settled in and pitched to his potential. His second half ERA was cut down to 3.24, holding opposing batters to a .210/.284/.329 line.
There’s no doubting Rodriguez’s potential, but the young lefty has to show some signs of consistency before becoming a reliable rotation member. The availability of his minor league options may start him in Triple-A, but Rodriguez holds exceptional upside for a No. 5 starter.
Josh Tomlin had a surprisingly effective first half of 2016 that shocked many, pitching to a 3.51 ERA over 16 starts. But his .261 BABIP and inflated FIP suggested that his weakness to home runs would eventually catch up to him. And catch up it did, as his second half ERA sharply rose to 5.59 as his BABIP normalized to .298.
Tomlin serves as a good innings eater for the back of the rotation, but his inability to strike batters out and his risky tendencies to give up the long ball bring down his ceiling and lower his floor.
Simply put, no matter who takes the ball for the Red Sox on the fifth day, he will represent a better option than Tomlin.
Advantage: Red Sox