Red Sox: Final rotation spots, “Up for grabs right now,” per Dave Bush

The Red Sox head to camp with competition on the schedule

Happy Fourth of July weekend, and happy Red Sox summer camp! That’s right folks, the squad is back at Fenway Park and spring training 2.0 is now underway with today being the first workouts. One of the biggest things Boston needs to address ahead of the sprint that will be the 2020 season is their starting rotation.

Even compared to just a year ago, the Red Sox starters are looking quite different. The names may be familiar but the roles in which they’ll have to fill this year have been shuffled quite a bit. Eduardo Rodriguez went from the third man on the totem pole to being the ace of the organization in one offseason. Nathan Eovaldi is now healthy and will likely be slotted in at the two-spot while Martin Perez will complete the trifecta of starters.

As we all know Chris Sale will miss 2020 and possibly some of 2021 due to his recent Tommy John surgery. If that hit wasn’t big enough, Boston will also be heading into the season without veteran southpaw David Price, after he was traded to the Dodgers along with Mookie Betts this past winter. So, the Red Sox lose two veteran superstars, elevate three talented pitchers, and now have to fill two holes in the rotation. You know what this means, we have a competition on our hands!

Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush eyeing competition for rotation

Over the offseason there were also some major changes to the coaching staff as both Alex Cora and Dana LeVangie are no longer with the club, seeing Ron Roenicke and Dave Bush earn promotions. As the new pitching coach Bush was already going to have his hands full, the team and COVID sure aren’t making it any easier on the veteran coach. With that in mind, he’s taking everything in stride and has his plan of attack set for not only camp but the season.

“We still have an open competition for the end of the rotation,” pitching coach Dave Bush said Friday. “And with a couple extra spots on the roster — we have a 30-man roster to start with — we have some flexibility with the rest of the staff, whether we carry some extra long guys or whether we go with a traditional starter in the fifth spot.”

Bush hit the nail right on the head and it’s a question every team in the league is going to have to try and answer. Is it better to go with another starter, long relievers, or go with an opener? That’s going to be the million-dollar question that may separate those in the playoffs and those heading home early if they can solve it.

Before spring training was shut down it felt as if Ryan Weber had earned his job in the rotation at the number four spot. Things could be very different now that everyone has been away for several months, but I feel he should still be a favorite to be in the rotation. His spring (1-0,0.00,9.0,11-0 K-BB) was incredibly impressive. With there not being many others than can outshine him at the moment, he’s in my rotation.

For the final spot, I honestly don’t know. The Red Sox have plenty of talented arms that can go in that position but I don’t know what strategy they want to use. Now that Chaim Bloom is sitting in the front office it feels like an opener is the most likely but with Collin McHugh and Brian Johnson on the roster, that can be avoided.

McHugh is still on the mend from having a procedure done on his elbow flexor so they may want to utilize him more in the bullpen to limit stress on the arm. For me, BJ is the one to go with in that fifth spot. He’s shown on more than enough occasions that he can step up when called upon. It won’t always be pretty but he can eat those 5-7 innings and keep the game where it needs to be for Boston’s offense to take over.

“I think those things are to be determined and they’re up for grabs right now,” Bush added.

Next: Breakout candidates for 2020

No matter that route the Red Sox go, Roenicke and Bush will make sure they have the right guys in the right positions to succeed. Having an old fashioned camp competition to fill the lineup spots could be the right medicine to heal this ailing squad. They’ll have just 60 games to erase the abysmal memories of 2019 from the minds of the fans. I for one am excited to see what this round of training will look like and just how Boston can use it to their advantage in 2020.

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