A Red Sox rotation built with bottom of the barrel free-agents
The Boston Red Sox pitching rotation for 2021 does not instill any confidence from my long years of watching just what they occasionally cobble together. Downright depressing knowing that two pitchers considered “Aces” may have Gibraltar size question marks. Another hurler has a history of arm miseries and that cuts down to a rookie and a failure in the National League.
So why not just construct a rotation that smells of a previous life for me – GIGO or garbage in, garbage out. The names are surfacing with levels of ability that – at least for me – would have yellow tape crime scene warnings. Here it is – my five that all have the ominous tag “low risk” attached to their names with low being defined as damn cheap in baseball dollars. So I’ll amuse myself with some bad as it could get roster building. Call it the Lance Lynn trigger.
The King may not be dead but his arm is. Felix Hernandez was with Atlanta last season but mercifully took an opt-out to avoid another embarrassing display on the mound. The 34-year-old righty is termed “likely” to return which is good news for hitters that Hernandez routinely shammed a few years back.
The track is just following the downward plunge of the former Cy Young winner’s ERA since 2015 with his last MLB season with the M’s in 2019 producing a 1-6 record. The one item of note is Hernandez’s downward slide in velocity and that is translated into his being hittable. In 2019, the 10.7 H/9 and 2.1 HR/9 will not make scouts click their heels and jump for joy. Three times in the past “King Felix” had the best H/9 in the AL.
Hernandez is not listening to nature and what Mother N is telling him about age equals erosion of talent. So what’s to stop the Red Sox? Tom Seaver gave some good and solid innings with Boston. Chaim Bloom has a certain admiration for risk/reward and this is it.
What is better than a former Cy Young winner on the staff but having an arm that captured two. The Red Sox have been mentioned as a possible landing place for Corey Kluber. Kluber will be 35-years-old when the 2021 season begins and will have a job – I mean a baseball job. The Rangers let Kluber go rather than dish out $18.5 MM and he will go to the highest (translation: Stupidest) bidder.
Despite my snarky attitude, Kluber is just two seasons removed from going 20-7. But those two seasons are the ones that are a cautionary tale of physical woes that have a tendency to magnify rather than diminish. Kluber was never a power pitcher but always reminded me of Greg Maddux with precision control and multiple pitching offerings that would be tossed at any time. Sign him up to battle “The King” for staff ace.
How about a reunion? Jon Lester should never have left town but what has left is Lester’s fastball that is now down to under 90 mph. The 37-year-old lefty is two seasons removed from leading the National League in wins (18) and is looking for a home after the Cubs paid him off. Lester is now down to a 7.2 SwStr% and a 36 Hard%.
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What could possibly go wrong? Lester is a gritty competitor and maybe the sad statistical measure the last two seasons is just a blip? Lester would certainly be baseball chump change compared to his last contract that was seven-years at $156 MM. A bargain hunter’s delight.
There is youth available in 32-year-old righty Chris Archer. Archer had opted out for 2020 and after his performance of 2018-2019 that was a wise choice. I always liked Archer the pitcher who was a ball of fire or is it on fire on the mound? A love him or hate him guy unless on your team. A big plus is he’s a buddy of Mookie Betts.
In his last two MLB seasons, Archer’s Hard% touched on 40. In 2019 with the Pirates, Archer tossed 119.2 innings of which most would be memorable only to hitters. A bright spot is Archer still throws hard (94.1 mph) but as noted gets hit hard. And at Fenway Park, the slash is .301/.401/.441 so Archer should be primed for 2021 in the Lyrical ballpark.
Need another lefty? The now 37-years-old Cole Hamels is on the board and available. Hamels has been a regular on the rumor mill circuit since his All-Star days in Philadelphia. Hamels has pulled over $210 MM from the money wagon in his career and still intends to be back at the trough in 2021.
Hamels backed off his fastball in 2020 tossing the “heater” only at a 25% rate resulting in a career-low 5.4 K/9. A certain indicator of a loss of confidence in old number one. Hamels now will mix it up more with a change, curve, and cutter. Indicators are that Hamels is getting more hittable which means a perfect fit for the Red Sox.
There you have it, my snarky rotation for 2021. Forget dishing out the dough for Trevor Bauer and stick to the plan which apparently is spending less or at least spend with caution. They can always re-sign Martin Perez.