Red Sox pitching staff with talent, will it all come together?

Jon Lester anchors a staff that severely under-performed in 2012.
Jon Lester anchors a staff that severely underperformed in 2012.

There is no doubt that poor pitching was the biggest reason for the Red Sox’s worst season in more than 45 years in 2012. The staff ranked 12th out of 14 AL teams in both ERA and wins, something uncharacteristic of the franchise for the past 15 years. There were talented arms – they just didn’t perform to their potential.

Here is a look at the 2013 pitching staff, which added a few new faces, while returning much of the core:

Starters
The starting rotation looks to be (in order): Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront and John Lackey. Two players not in the rotation last year were Dempster and Lackey.

Dempster was signed this off-season to a two-year deal worth $26.5 million. The 35-year-old went 12-8 with a 3.38 ERA between the Cubs and Rangers last year. Lackey is coming off of Tommy John surgery and seems determined to come back strong. He came into camp having lost about 15 pounds and seems primed for a successful 2013.

Although it’s just spring training, Lester has been outstanding. In five appearances he is 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA and has struck out 16 in 20 innings. He seems ready to overcome a disappointing 9-12 season last year. Buchholz was perhaps the team’s best starter last year, going 11-8 with a 4.56 ERA, but he will surely look to improve on that this year. Finally, Felix Doubront will be starting for a second full season. The southpaw started last season strong, but tailed off down the stretch.

Bullpen
This, possibly, could be the biggest strength of the team this season. The team signed closer Joel Hanrahan this off-season, who had 76 saves the past two years with Pittsburgh. Also coming to Boston is Koji Uehara from the Rangers, who will be a viable set up man to compliment Andrew Bailey and Junichi Tazawa. Andrew Miller should have a role as a lefty specialist as well as Alfredo Aceves as a long reliever, especially with Franklin Morales likely to start the year on the disabled list.

One question yet to be answered: Where will Daniel Bard begin the season — the big league club or Pawtucket, as he works his way back from a failed starting experiment last year?

Follow Metro Boston Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84


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