Red Sox line up their starting rotation to begin 2018 season

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 05: Chris Sale
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 05: Chris Sale /

The Boston Red Sox have made it clear who their top three starting pitchers will be to open the season while offering hints about the last two spots.

We now know which trio of pitchers the Boston Red Sox will roll out in Tampa Bay for the first three games of the series that kicks off the 2018 season.

In the least surprising news of the year, the Red Sox have announced Chris Sale as their Opening Day starter against the Rays on March 29. There had been some speculation as to why this news took so long to confirm but Sale is clearly the right choice to lead this staff.

Following the ace in the rotation will be David Price and Rick Porcello.

Price hasn’t lived up to his massive contract yet but he’s been better than his reputation in Boston suggests. He recovered from a rocky start in 2016 to go 13-8 with a 3.39 ERA from mid-May through the end of the regular season. Price missed significant time due to injury last year but his brilliance out of the bullpen in the postseason proved he has returned to form.

Porcello earned the Cy Young in 2016, only to fall off dramatically last year. He led the league in losses, hits allowed and home runs allowed while watching his ERA jump up a point and a half. He’s not the elite pitcher his 2016 seasons suggests but he’s not nearly as bad as we saw last year. Producing somewhere in the middle would make him a solid No. 3 starter.

The last two rotation spots haven’t been set in stone yet. Brian Johnson appears set to occupy one of those spots. Eduardo Rodriguez is likely to slot ahead of him in the No. 4 spot as long as he continues to make progress.

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Rodriguez tossed parts of four innings in a minor league game on Tuesday in his first game action of the spring. That’s a promising sign, although the Red Sox will wait until after his next outing before determining his status to begin the season.

This latest update leaves out any mention of Drew Pomeranz. The lefty would seem to be a lock for the rotation when healthy. His exclusion suggests he won’t be ready on time. The Red Sox will need five starters the first turn through the rotation. Off days could allow them to skip Johnson’s second turn. By the time that spot comes up a third time, it’s possible Pomeranz could be ready to join the rotation.

Pomeranz tossed a career-high 173 2/3 innings last season. He’s not a workhorse pitcher who should approach 200 innings. Delaying the start of his season by a couple weeks and slotting him at the back of the rotation will help limit his workload so he’ll be stronger for the stretch run.

Next: 10 reasons to be excited for the Red Sox 2018 season

The Red Sox have arguably the best rotation in the American League when all five of their top starters are healthy and performing to their potential. It appears they will be close to having their staff intact by Opening Day and the rotation should be running on all cylinders before long.