Red Sox: Where starting rotation ranks among AL playoff teams
By Sean Penney
Boston Red Sox
Playoff Rotation: Chris Sale, Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez, Doug Fister
Red Sox starters were only fourth in the league with a 4.06 ERA but they were also second with a 9.47 K/9, 2.71 K/BB, 17.0 fWAR and 3.94 SIERA.
Boston was expected to have a three-headed monster leading the rotation, only it didn’t quite pan out that way. Sale was as excellent as advertised, finishing second in the league with a 2.90 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. He struck out a major league-leading 308 batters, making a run at the single-season franchise record.
Unfortunately, the other two heads of that monster whimpered instead of roared. Porcello took a big step back from his Cy Young campaign a year ago, leading the league in home runs allowed and losses. He’s become such a liability that the Red Sox may not even give him a postseason start. David Price battled elbow soreness throughout the season and has been relegated to the bullpen.
While two of their starters faltered, Pomeranz became a pleasant surprise. He won 17 games and his 3.32 ERA ranked seventh in the league. His career-high innings total is a bit of a concern and may explain his dip in velocity late in the season but he finished strong with six innings of one-run ball against an Astros team he’ll face again in the ALDS.
It’s not a three-headed monster but the Red Sox still have one of the best one-two punches in the AL with Sale and Pomeranz. After that, Boston faces a lot of question marks.
Rodriguez has shown flashes of brilliance but remains as inconsistent as he is inexperienced on this stage. Boston has yet to confirm their rotation but E-Rod figures to be included due to a lack of options.
At least Price’s conversion to lights-out reliever spares us the narrative of his postseason record, yet we can’t overlook that the only Red Sox starting pitcher candidate with a playoff win on their resume is Fister. The veteran who they scooped off the scrap heap and posted a career-worst 4.88 ERA is the only Red Sox starter to taste postseason glory.
Having only two reliable starters may not hurt as much in a five-game series but if Boston advances beyond the first round then their lack of rotation depth could come back to bite them.