Red Sox: Mr. Negativity looks at the 2018 starting rotation

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 16: Pitcher Rick Porcello
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 16: Pitcher Rick Porcello /

The Boston Red Sox rotation is one of the best – or is it? Too many question marks for this observer heading into the 2018 season.

You can never take the last vestiges of The Fellowship of the Miserable out of my DNA.  Too many years of too many disappointments so I approach each season with a healthy dose of negativity with the idea that I will be dead wrong and enjoy a serving of roasted crow – the official meal of The Fellowship.

Today, Mr. Negativity will be all riled up on the Boston Red Sox rotation.  To Mr. N. this is a very statistically misleading group from 2017 that apparently will segue into 2018 with few if any significant changes. But what about that fWAR of 17.0?  The fact the rotation was second to Cleveland’s. Those are facts!

The second half of the season saw the rotation slip behind the Yankees for third place and for the real crunch time in September, the collective plummeted to seventh place. At home, the Red Sox had the fifth-best rotation in the American League. Away they were second best.  Not bad, but there are “issues” that are – to use a political phrase – “troubling.”

Steven Wright was last seen being carted in the police station on a domestic charge. Wright spent 2017 in recovery mode from knee surgery and now faces the inevitable suspension. The personal issues are one point, but the second is performance issues. Coming off major surgery does not give me a jolt of confidence.

Knee surgery is suddenly a specialty among the Red Sox and limp right down – Eduardo Rodriguez!  Arguably the second-best hurler on the staff by the end of May, but the annual injury or injuries started to accumulate.  The promising lefty went to the surgical carving station and based on E-Rod’s past recovery history he may be kaput until the next ice age rolls around.

I’d love to see a right-handed thumper in the lineup who could poke 38 dingers out.  They do have Rick Porcello who gave up 38 dingers in 2017.  Porcello did a rare sink or is it stink?  Leading the AL in wins in 2017 (21) and in losses (17) in 2018.

Porcello of his Cy Young Award season was an anomaly.  There is nothing in his history that says to expect that.  What you should expect is the Porcello of 2014 in Detroit. A capable middle of the rotation hurler who will keep you in the game. I expect that and that means a yawn or a 50/50 shot at winning a game.

I hate walks and a 3.6 BB/9 tells me a negativity I don’t want to face regarding lefty Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz was a pleasant surprise or shock depending on how you viewed his 2016 season. How did this guy win 17 games? I will wait out the first half of the 2018 season before punching my Charlie Card for the Pomeranz bandwagon.

That brings us to Mr. September in Chris Sale.  The AL leader with a spectacular fWar of 7.7. In the past Sale bottomed out in September, but in 2017 Sale got a head start with a dismal 4.38 ERA in August.  In September Sale lowered that to 3.72. For 130 games Sale is as good as it gets year after year, but baseball has a 162-game schedule.

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Is this the season Sale goes beginning to end with consistency? Based on history I would say a firm “no” as Sale trends towards the ordinary as the season wears away. Then comes the playoffs when Sale decided to see if he could match Porcello’s 38 dingers in just two appearances.

David Price spent half his season bitchin’ about every possible slight – real or imagined.  Price also spent half the season on the disabled list. At 32-years-old and a bundle of innings pitched the future does not look promising. Is Price another addition to the ledger of dead money?

So, what is the outlook?

There are far too many question marks with this rotation to feel comfortable. Maybe the addition of some lumber will cover up the flaws? Maybe all will fall into place? Maybe somehow Dave Dombrowski will wheel and deal and capture a Gerrit Cole type pitcher? Maybe Brian Johnson will finally be successful?  Maybe Hector Velazquez will think the AL is really the Mexican League and become a force?

Next: Dave Dombrowski rains on fan's parade at winter meetings

Well, folks, a lot of maybe’s and a bundle of ifs associated with this rotation. Too many to make me all giddy. Mr. Negativity does have some glimmer of promise in that I think our bullpen is excellent.  And we all know the Royals chalked up a title with a rotation found on a landfill and a bullpen that blew everyone away.