Re-Assessing The Red Sox Rotation For The Second Half Of The Season

The Red Sox starting rotation has certainly had their ups and downs this season.  They’ve dealt with injuries, inconsistencies and failed experiments.  Despite a dismal west coast trip they are still only 2.5 games out of a playoff spot heading into the final series before the All-Star break against the Yankees.  To contend in the second half they will need the the starting rotation to step up…here’s how things look as we stand right now in the rotation:

Lester needs to step up in the 2nd half

Jon Lester (5-5, 4.34 ERA, 88 Ks) – Lester has been disappointing in the first half.  At times in his career he has pitched like an ace but he has just not shown it this season.  He’s been terribly inconsistent and seems to get flustered easily when he’s on the mound.  The Red Sox really need ace Lester to show up in the 2nd half of the season if they want to contend.  With Josh Beckett aging Lester is the closest thing that they have to a #1 starter.  He had a good start on Tuesday night, giving up only 1 run in 6 2/3 innings so hopefully he can use that start to go on a run.  Lester has been healthy this season and is the Sox most durable starter.  If he can find his consistency it would be huge for the Sox’ 2nd half.

Josh Beckett (4-7, 4.06 ERA, 60 Ks) – Beckett has been the most consistent Red Sox starter by far this season.  He has the lowest ERA of all Red Sox starters who have made at least 10 starts.  He is not a number 1 starter anymore but he is still very productive.  Health is the big issue with him.  He can’t produce if he’s not pitching.  He has already missed 3 starts this year and is battling a shoulder injury.  He looked good in his 1st start back in Seattle and will have a big start against the Yankees on Friday night at Fenway.  The Sox will need healthy Beckett in their rotation to try and get to October.

Clay Buchholz (8-2, 5.53 ERA, 58 Ks) – Buchholz seemed to have started to turn the corner in his last few starts before his stomach problems crept up.  He seemed to have trouble coming back from his back injury from last season earlier this year but when he finally looked to be settling down he had a new issue to deal with.  Time will tell how long he is out and what lingering effects he will have from the stomach problems.  Buchholz is a top of the rotation guy when he is healthy and right so hopefully he gets healthy and right sooner rather than later.

Fatigue may become a factor in Doubront’s 1st full season as a starter

Felix Doubront (8-4, 4.42 ERA, 91 Ks) – Doubront carried the rotation in the early part of the year and has been the workhorse along with Lester in the 1st half.  You have to wonder if all of that will catch up with him however.  The 89.2 innings pitched so far this year is more than he pitched all of last season and it’s only July 5th.  He has looked tired in his last few starts.  Doubront is a good young pitcher who will only get better and you have to think about the long term with him.  I can see a DL or bullpen stint in the next month to preserve him better for the stretch run.

Daniel Bard (5-6, 5.24 ERA, 34 Ks) – The Daniel Bard starting experiment is over.  If he makes it back to the big club this year it will be in a relief role.

Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-3, 6.65 ERA, 20 Ks) – Dice-K is back on the DL after making 5 starts coming off of Tommy John surgery.  The results were not good.  Would anyone honestly be surprised if Dice-K didn’t make another start in a Red Sox uniform?

Fatigue may become a factor in Doubront’s 1st full season as a starter

Aaron Cook ( 2-2, 4.37 ERA, 2 Ks) – Aaron Cook was a low risk-high reward signing and it looks to be paying off.  He throws a good sinking fastball and the Red Sox have played excellent infield defense this year making him a good fit for the club.  He’s a playoff tested veteran who’s been a starter his whole career.  With all of the other questions surrounding the Red Sox rotation I can easily see him sticking around for the rest of the year.

Franklin Morales (1-1, 2.51 ERA, 46 Ks) – Morales is a K machine and has been a pleasant surprise filling in for the Red Sox rotation.  The Sox should ride the wave with Morales right now but he will run into the same problem that Doubront will.  His career high in innings was 46.2 last season.  Right now he is at 43.0.  Morales is too versatile a pitcher to tire out so he may be the odd man out when the Red Sox have 5 healthy guys.  This is also where Aaron Cook has an advantage over Morales, he is stretched out enough to start for the rest of the season.  Either way, Morales will be an important part of the Sox staff going forward.

Every contending team needs great starting pitching.  The pieces are there for the Sox, they just need to continue to execute.  If these guys can get it done the Sox will have a chance to get to October.  If the injuries and inconsistencies continue then they’ll likely be on the outside looking in for the 3rd year in a row.

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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