Friday, June 30, 2017

Fate Of Red Sox Lies With Starting Pitching

Chris Sale has been electric in his first 16 starts in Boston.  Sale has been so good so far that even my wife, a casual Sox fan if there ever was one without owning a Pink Hat, is at the point where she knows what day he's pitching.  He has conjured up memories of Pedro Martinez' debut with the Red Sox twenty years ago and the idea of him taking the ball in Game One of a playoff series is enough to get me through the summer.

For Sale to get that October opportunity, he's going to need some help from his fellow starters.  The fate of the Red Sox season lies much more with David Price, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Drew Pomeranz than it does with Sale.  We know what we're getting when Sale is on the bump but there are some serious question marks when it comes to the rest of the group.

For the Red Sox to evolve into a World Series threat, Price does not have to pitch like the 2012 Cy Young Award winner - although that would be nice - but even just to the level he did in his initial Boston season from last year when he went 17-9 with a 3.99 ERA.  Having a healthy Price contributing at the top of the rotation behind Sale should be plenty to get Boston into the playoffs. Price's playoff record is on par with Trump's record on Twitter but, hopefully, being the number two behind Sale will be what he needs to settle into being a winner in October.

Getting Porcello to rebound from his poor start is also important.  The Red Sox do not need him to be at the level that he was last year when he won the A.L. Cy Young - again, that would be nice - but if he could get to the level that he was in his last season in Detroit in 2014 when he went 15-13 with a 3.46 ERA it would go a long way towards making Boston the favorite in the American League.

Rodriguez has been good when he's been on the field but he's only made ten starts so far due to injuries.  The Red Sox need him healthy.  Pomeranz has also been good for an end of the rotation starter and the Red Sox need him to be able to take the ball every fifth day and give them at least 5 solid innings.  He's had arm issues as well that need to be monitored.

If Price and Porcello can raise their performance and slot in behind Sale to give the Red Sox a potent top of the rotation and if Rodriguez and Pomeranz can stay healthy to give them a solid back of the rotation, this team would have the arms necessary to fend off the Astros, Yankees, and Indians in the A.L.

Having a healthy, stable, and thriving starting rotation would also allow Dave Dombrowski to use his trade chips to add bullpen depth and possibly another power bat to the lineup.  Being able to address those needs, if the starting pitching comes through beyond Sale, would make the Red Sox a legitimate contender to win the 2017 World Series.

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