While the majority of the spring has been focused on the play of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, what has gone under the radar is the number of questions surrounding the Red Sox’ starting rotation behind David Price.
Eduardo Rodriguez will start the season on the disabled list. Rick Porcello currently has allowed 17 earned runs in 15 2/3 innings to this point in the spring. Clay Buchholz has allowed eight runs (five earned) in 10 innings and Steven Wright, who has limited major league experience, appears to be the No. 5 starter at the end of the rotation until Rodriguez returns.
The only starter to really have an impressive spring is Joe Kelly, who has allowed just three earned runs over 20 innings. While it is just spring training and the games don’t count, it is OK to have questions about the Red Sox rotation.
Last season Red Sox starters had an ERA of 4.39, good for 24th in baseball. They also allowed 246 runs in the first three innings, which were the 11th most in baseball. In a number of games they fell behind big early and it was too much to overcome. In a season where the Red Sox finished 78-84, it clearly showed just how important starting pitching is.
On the flip side, the potential is certainly there. Buchholz has shown when healthy he can be one of the best pitchers in the American League. Porcello, although inconsistent, proved during his time in Detroit he can be an above average major league starter and Kelly has some of the best pure stuff in all of baseball.
While the team hasn’t openly showed signs of being concerned with the rotation, there have been rumblings of the team showing interest in the Padres’ starters. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise with the state of the Sox’ rotation.
New president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is entering his first full season with the Red Sox with a win-now attitude and will likely do anything in his power to make it happen. If that means trading for a proven starter, he won’t be afraid to do it.
There’s no question the rotation is better than it was last year just with the addition of Price, but Price only pitches once every five days. The other four starters need to perform as well.
Even if Sandoval and Ramirez perform poorly, the team can still get by. If the starting rotation doesn’t perform to its capabilities, the team likely will not be able to get by - so the Red Sox better hope the performances this spring do not carry over to the regular season.