Red Sox: Bold predictions that may come true in 2017
By Sean Penney
Only one Red Sox starter will top 15 wins
Boston has arguably the best rotation in baseball, anchored by a trio of aces who all won at least 17 games last season. Barring complete disaster, how can we possibly fathom two of the three tallying no more than 15 wins?
Why it could happen:
Let’s start with David Price, who won 17 games in his first season with the Red Sox last year. It took him a league leading 35 starts to do it and he’ll certainly fall short of that workload given that he’s expected to begin the season on the disabled list. If Price takes the mound for fewer than 30 starts then it’s reasonable to expect his win total to drop.
Chris Sale also won 17 games last year behind an offense vastly inferior to the one supporting him in Boston. One would expect that an increase in run production will push up his win total, which most likely is what will happen. However, we can’t overlook the history of ace pitchers that have struggled in their first season in Boston. Price is the latest example and recent history is littered with the names of pitchers who stumbled through disappointing debuts in a Red Sox uniform, from Josh Beckett to John Lackey.
Reigning Cy Young winner Rick Porcello led the majors with 22 wins last year, but don’t expect him to match that level again. He had the most run support in baseball with 6.61 runs per game. Granted he had the best offense in the majors behind him, but so did the rest of the staff. Teammate Eduardo Rodriguez received only 4.05 runs of support last season with the same offense on his side. Run support can be fickle, so even if Porcello pitches as well as he did in last year’s breakout campaign, we can’t necessarily count on him getting the benefit of Boston’s offense surging when he’s on the mound.
As for the remaining rotation candidates? At least one of them won’t spend the majority of the season as a starter and none of them have ever won 15 games before.
Why it won’t happen:
Porcello’s previous career-high was 15 wins and he should be able to top that given the improvements he showed last season and the offense he has supporting him.
Even if Sale struggles to acclimate to the pressure in Boston, he’ll still win plenty of games. Price and Beckett were both considered massive disappointments in their first seasons with the Red Sox and each still won at least 16.
For Price, it depends on how many starts he’ll get. At this point, surgery seems to have been avoided and it’s a matter of building up his arm strength. If he returns at some point in May then there is still time for him to rack up a solid win total.
We also can’t rule out the possibility that Rodriguez, Steven Wright or Drew Pomeranz will make a run at topping 15 wins. Just because they’ve never done it before doesn’t mean they don’t have the potential to do so if they can stay healthy and remain in the rotation.