The Red Sox have three starting pitchers on the disabled list. Who will be the first off it?
Normally when a team has three starting pitchers hit the disabled list, panic sets in.
However, the Boston Red Sox are remaining calm, cool and collected. The team has no interest in rushing any of the three starting pitchers back into action. According to Chad Jennings of the Boston Herald, manager Alex Cora hinted at a possibility of Steven Wright being the first in line to return from the DL.
"“That Steven Wright hurdle is huge because of who he is,” Cora said. “I think his arm is there, it’s just a matter of, clear this hurdle and then go from there and see what he can do. That’s a big step, and if he can clear that one, you never know.”"
Wright, 33, is scheduled for a live batting practice session that will test his ability for two innings. Wright’s road to redemption has been bumpy since getting left knee surgery to fix cartilage damage, but Cora thinks Wright’s arm is in good shape.
The Red Sox will need one of the three starters to be healthy by April 2nd, but pitchers can work up building innings until March 28 – the day before Opening Day – and still be on schedule for the fifth game, as Jennings points out.
"Drew Pomeranz (forearm strain) and Eduardo Rodriguez (knee surgery) are also at risk of opening the season on the disabled list. Rodriguez threw live batting practice this morning, but he remains the least likely to break camp with the team.Pomeranz is scheduled to throw living batting practice later this week, and it seems a toss-up whether he or Wright is closest to being regular-season-ready.“I think out of the three, honestly, looking forward to (Wright’s live batting practice),” Cora said. “That’s going to let us know a lot of things. It looks like, if he can clear that one, then we’ll build it up to see where we’re going to be at the end of the month.”"
It seems like Boston is banking on Wright to be the first of the trio ready for a return to action, unless Pomeranz leapfrogs him in progress. Should Wright’s batting practice go smoothly, the Red Sox will allow Wright to pitch to pitch in spring training competition by the end of the month.
Despite the Red Sox hopeful of both Wright and Pomeranz ready for the start of the season, Cora won’t push Pomeranz, who strained his forearm, to be ready for the first week of the season.
"“I’m not going to push him just to push him,” Cora said. “We understand it’s 162 games. Yeah, people say the games count the same in April as in late September, but we want them healthy and to be who they are the majority of the season. So, that’s the most important thing.”"
Moving forward, Cora confirmed the starting five would be Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Hector Velazquez and Brian Johnson. Velazquez and Johnson are expected to fill in the two remaining rotation spots if Wright or Pomeranz aren’t ready.
"“It looks that way,” Cora said. “We have to stretch those two guys. You saw the moves we made, so as far as starters, those are the guys that we feel comfortable with them, that can give us solid starts.”"
Despite Jennings’ report, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe thinks Eduardo Rodriguez is the closest out of the three to returning to action.
He gave his analysis of the situation on Facebook, claiming Rodriguez is expected to be the furthest along in his rehab.
Whether it’s Rodriguez, Pomeranz or Wright returning first, there shouldn’t be much of a debate regarding who should round out the rotation.
Pomeranz was a top-10 pitcher in the American League last year, and in no shape or form, be left out of the rotation once healthy. Coming off a 17-6 record with a 3.32 ERA, Pomeranz’s name is written in Sharpie permanent marker.
Rodriguez and Wright both have had flashes of brilliance, but E-Rod has shown more consistency and longevity. The Red Sox are very high on Rodriguez as apart of their future, and putting the young pitcher in the bullpen would stunt his growth. Knuckleball pitchers have had success in long-releif/spot start roles before in the Majors, and Wright generally doesn’t pitch deep into games anyways.
While the national media can argue who is most ready to make a comeback, there won’t be much drama with the roles in the starting rotation.
But with the addition of of Roenis Elias and Wright as long-relief options, and the subtraction of Brian Johnson from the rotation, Cora will have his hands full in strategizing the bullpen. There’s a growing amount of mouths to feed with limited opportunities.