Red Sox starting rotation is made for the playoffs – maybe

Mar 14, 2017; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price (24) looks on from the dugout against the Toronto Blue Jays at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 14, 2017; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price (24) looks on from the dugout against the Toronto Blue Jays at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox rotation when 100% could be the group no team wants to face in the playoffs. The health of David Price is the key.

David Price will get paid. If Price does nothing for the rest of 2017 he will get paid. If Price blows his arm out and is never a dependable pitcher he will get paid. Price is by all accounts an incredibly hard worker who takes his craft quite seriously. In fact, the future of the season, of Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and of manager John Farrell may hinge on Price.

The forearm strain is often a precursor to the little words that mention a former pitcher who became patient zero in arm reconstruction for pitchers. So forget about the disaster of being lost for 18 months and assume Price will function as expected.

For Price, the season starts with a few rehabilitation assignments in which the goal is not to bedazzle the minor league completion, but to determine if after 70 pitches the delicate appendage remains intact. Price has already gone the simulated game route and that was positive.

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A fully recovered and functioning Price will give the Red Sox three incredibly talented starters at the top of the rotation. Two – Rick Porcello and Price – have both won Cy Young Awards and Chris Sale may get one this year, but in the past has been just “this close.” The likelihood is all three will be among the top ten pitchers in the American League.

Do not dismiss Eduardo Rodriguez from the above mix. Injuries and inconsistency may now be in his past and a nice six innings against the Brewers had a big no walks on the stats line. Rodriguez continuing on the path would have four solid starters and where that comes into play is the playoffs.

Pitching is the key and pitching will usually nullify hitting. The potential three or foursome Boston would send out would certainly make them a team others would wish to avoid. The key in the playoffs would certainly be Price and his something to prove in the post-season.

The added “if” is both Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg out of the bullpen. Both were projected to give the Red Sox some serious depth and talent before Craig Kimbrel closed, but oh those injuries. A Thornburg and Smith pitching as expected could lock that barn door tight. Starters capable of spinning a solid seven innings shortened the need for bullpen depth.

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A future projection is based entirely on the health of the pitchers and based on what has transpired in 2016 and 2017 that may be some very wishful thinking. If it does fall into place the primary goal will simply be to get to the playoffs and turn it over to the mound boys.

The months of June and July may just decide the season for Boston. That will be the performance indicator for the aforementioned pitchers. The combination of health and just how they are tossing will be the key to 2017.

If the Red Sox fail to make the playoffs or repeat a three-and-out of 2016, we may see a rapid change in the employment status of Farrell and Dombrowski.

Dombrowski’s reign is not going as planned as a few trades had no real returns as of yet. The questions around the $217 Million contract of Price could only exasperate the situation if he fails to deliver. Winning is expected.

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So there are more than just the players on the line – management is also with a window that may be closed faster than anticipated.