For the Boston Red Sox, the rich may be getting richer regarding pitching. Drew Pomeranz and Steven Wright had their first starts with mixed results. What happens when they are ready?
You never have enough pitching! Or do you? The Boston Red Sox rotation has been devoid of Drew Pomeranz and Steven Wright this season until Friday night. Both experienced the obvious residue of pitching rust in their first outings of 2018.
Pomeranz gave up three runs in the first inning, but did finish with 3 2/3 innings, two walks, and seven whiffs. It takes time and that the Red Sox have.
For Wright, the issue was one of concern. Wright got the ball to start at Pawtucket and lasted 2 2/3 innings with a rather tepid pitching line – two earned runs and five hits. OK, a rather dismissive beginning that should improve – maybe. Wright left the contest after 61 pitches with a sore back. Not promising.
What happens if they are healthy?
Pomeranz and Wright are proven pitching assets when 100%. But right now the rotation has three aces in full bloom and Eduardo Rodriguez back to having a knee that is not an advertisement for a replacement surgery. With Hector Velazquez and Brian Johnson showing they may belong in a rotation here or elsewhere the Red Sox and Manager Alex Cora are in the delightful spot of having a bounty of rotation pitching.
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Can I put a damper on my entusiasm? Is there a negative I can troll for in Red Sox history?
In 2009, the Red Sox won 95 games and were quickly dispersed in the playoffs. The pitching that season was supposed to be possibly the best in baseball. A potential eight-man rotation talk was not treated lightly. Then it happened.
Injuries and poor performances conspired to strip the rotation clean. Brad Penny did nothing and John Smoltz was a disaster. The Red Sox were down to relying on Paul Byrd, Justin Masterson, and Junichi Tazawa by the end of the year. Depth is a nice luxury, but it must be accompanied by talent.
Is this similar to 2009? Not even close in my estimation. This current group has three aces and that means losing streak stoppers. Of course, injury concerns are paramount to continued success. David Price and his elbow/forearm from 2017 are always swirling around in the worst case scenario. So what do you do?
Cora has done a magnificent managerial juggling act of allocating playing time. Reports are the positional players understand the method and have responded in the positive. Winning does that. Now comes the pitching part. So far the early indications are Velazquez and Johnson are on standby for multiple innings. But with Pomeranz and Wright what do you do?
I suspect that the Red Sox may incorporate a six-man rotation. This is not a new idea and has been done by other teams in the past and present. In Japan, it is an approach that has been used for decades. With the fragile arms of pitchers a safe path to follow.
A healthy Wright and Pomeranz offer up opportunity in the baseball trade markets and trade is an itch that Dave Dombrowski continually needs to scratch. The Red Sox depth could make one or both expendable and possible chips for addressing issues elsewhere.
For now, the team is a machine and a machine that happens to have replacement parts available. This applies to positional and pitching – a most advantageous position in baseball 2018. And it is not over, folks since Dustin Pedroia will soon return. And did you notice Sam Travis is hitting .386 at Pawtucket?