Coming into the season, it was apparent the Red Sox wouldn’t have the best starting rotation in the game, but nothing close to as bad as they have been through the first 51 games.
Going into play Tuesday, Red Sox starters have an ERA of 5.05, 29th out of 30 teams, and the worst in the American League. Of the five starters that began the year in the rotation, only one has an ERA below 4.97, in Clay Buchholz at 4.33.
Fortunately for the Red Sox, there is time to save their rotation and they have the pieces to do so.
The first move has already taken place with Eduardo Rodriguez being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket and staying in the rotation. The left-hander, who the Red Sox acquired from the Orioles in the Andrew Miller trade, went 7 2/3 shutout innings in his major league debut against the Rangers last week to earn his first major league win.
The next move is to send Justin Masterson (when he’s back from the DL) and Joe Kelly to the bullpen. The Red Sox have been in need of a long reliever since the season began, and Masterson - who has bullpen experience - would be perfect for that role.
Kelly, who has arguably the best stuff in the rotation, just can’t keep it all together for entire starts. He too has bullpen experience and would seemingly perform better in shorter stints as he would be able to let everything loose with the ability to hit 100 mph.
This would leave a rotation of Buchholz, Rodriguez, Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Steven Wright. There could be another potential move with Brian Johnson, who has dominated the minors in the past year, taking the place of Wright. But Wright has proven he belongs, having allowed three earned runs or less and going at least five innings in all three of his starts.
Once these moves are made, the biggest key is that they have to stick. Kelly can’t be moved to the bullpen and then a few weeks later be moved back to the rotation. The key for pitching success is consistency.
While some of these may not be the easiest decisions to make, the calendar has now turned to June and no longer can the phrase, “It’s only April” or “It’s only May” be used. Almost a third of the season has passed and the Red Sox’ rotation hasn’t performed anywhere near expectations.
With the poor play in the AL East, and how bad the Red Sox have looked this year, the division is still up for grabs. It is the worst division in baseball, which is keeping the Red Sox in the mix, but before it becomes too late the team cannot continue to roll out this same rotation. A change is needed.