Red Sox Roundtable: Five questions about the Opening Day roster

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 14: Blake Swihart #23 of the Boston Red Sox at bat against the Toronto Blue Jays during the second inning of the game at Fenway Park on June 14, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JUNE 14: Blake Swihart #23 of the Boston Red Sox at bat against the Toronto Blue Jays during the second inning of the game at Fenway Park on June 14, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images) /
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BOSTON, MA – AUGUST 11: Eduardo Rodriguez (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA – AUGUST 11: Eduardo Rodriguez (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

When all options are healthy, which pitcher is the best option to fill the No. 5 spot in the rotation?

Brandon: It has to be Eduardo Rodriguez. He’s the only one who has shown the most consistency out of the pack. Steven Wright‘s stretch two season ago was a bit of a farse, and since then, his production has been like an uncontrollable roller coaster. Brian Johnson has shown potential, but has yet to produce for even half a season in the big leagues.

Rick: Johnson and Hector Velazquez appear the best, but Johnson’s BB/9 can be scary. I like Velazquez who did well in limited action and was outstanding at AAA. Being a righty in a lefty-heavy rotation helps.

Jake: The answer is definitely Rodriguez. In fact, when healthy I would slot him in at No. 4 over Rick Porcello. I still believe that Rodriguez can give a 3.70 ERA with 9.0 K/9, which would make for one of the most dominant back-of-rotation arms in the game.

Josh: If Wright pitches like he did in 2016, it’ll be hard to keep him out of the rotation. But I think the fifth spot will go to Rodriguez. His potential is insane and he finally put it together last season when he wasn’t hurt. Wright has a ton of value as a reliever, and Johnson will be a good long man and spot starter.

Hunter: I’ve been a Wright guy since day one because I love me some knuckleball. At the same time, I really believe in Velazquez as a Major League pitcher. I advocated heavily last year for him, and was happy to see he pitched well when given a shot. It has to be Rodriguez though. When healthy, Rodriguez has legitimate “ace” stuff and could not only be a good fifth starter, but has All-Star potential.

Bryson: Rodriguez is the guy for me when he is healthy. He has battled knee issues for a while now and when he has been fully healthy he has shown he has the stuff to be a top of the rotation guy. Even on a bum knee last year he was a very serviceable pitcher. He is younger than Wright and also fits into the future plans of this team more than Wright does. With time, Rodriguez can be a guy who can be in the top half of the Red Sox rotation for a while.

Stephen: Rodriguez has to be the No. 5 starter. He is one of the most valuable assets the Red Sox have. He has tremendous upside and is controlled until 2022. However, I disagree about slotting Rick Porcello behind a healthy E-Rod. Porcello won a Cy Young in 2016 for a reason. He should have his control back in 2018, and could easily return to form. While positive regression isn’t guaranteed, the Red Sox need to send a message that Porcello, Price, and Sale are all ace caliber pitchers. Pitching rotations shouldn’t always be constructed linearly, or in a best to worst format. Porcello and Sale were the only Red Sox pitchers with over 200 IP last year. Their ability to pitch deep into games was critical for keeping the bullpen fresh. Putting the two back to back could unnecessarily create a pattern of high rest and high use on the bullpen. Price, Pomeranz, Rodriguez, and Wright are all recovering from injuries and will need to be somewhat limited early in the year.