There’s nothing better than postseason baseball. Well, actually, maybe just one thing. That would be the Boston Red Sox taking part in it.
For the second-straight year, the Sox finished in last place in the AL East. So watching the playoffs once again without a horse in the race comes with mixed emotions. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paying
Not only will I be watching, I’ll be all in, fully invested. Because I love a good pitcher’s duel. And in the postseason, every single pitch is magnified. In this specific postseason, the pitching is lights-out across the board.
Dominant starting pitching is mandatory in this league to win a championship. You can’t win a World Series without it. And in this year’s postseason, all eight teams in the tournament have at least two dominant starters at the top of their rotation.
You could make the argument that the New York Mets have three. Or that the St. Louis Cardinals only have one, thanks to some injuries. But either way, the blueprint is clear: You’ve got to have pitching.
That explains why the Red Sox are watching from afar. There are at least 16 starters currently playing meaningful baseball in October who I’d take over any pitcher on the Sox roster. Do I really need to name them? David Price, Marcus Stroman, Cole Hamels, Yovani Gallardo, Yordano Ventura, Johnny Cueto, Dallas Keuchel, Scott Kazmir, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, John Lackey, Michael Wacha, Jake Arrieta, and Jon Lester.
Notice I left out Matt Harvey, who is an ace, but also seems to be quite the distraction these days for a Mets team that has a chance to make some noise in the postseason. Also notice that two former dominant Red Sox starters — Lester and Lackey — are included in this list.
While doing my best to not live in the past, that’s a pretty formidable group of pitchers. And I could add more to it, who are pitching in the playoffs and are better than what the Red Sox had to offer in 2015, but again, I’m trying to move forward, and think about 2016.
In order for Dave Dombrowski to do that, he needs to acknowledge the difference in pitching talent in this year’s postseason and the Red Sox team he inherited when he became president of baseball operations in Boston a few months ago.
In fact, a couple guys on that list will be available this winter. And if the Red Sox are serious about contending next season, and once again playing meaningful baseball in October, then their first order of business this offseason must be to acquire someone like, let’s say, Price.
Price was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays at the trade deadline, and is an impending free agent. Signing him would be a great start. And judging by the aforementioned blueprint as I watch this year’s postseason, it should only be the start.
Dombrowski can’t stop at just one dominant arm. He then needs to add another top-flight starter. Someone who has proven to be a top-of-the-rotation arm in the majors. The ideal way to acquire that second starter would be to overwhelm a smaller-market club with a package of prospects to complete a blockbuster trade.
Dombrowski has a history of doing both — signing free agents and making big trades — and we know the Red Sox aren’t shy when it comes to their checking account, so this isn’t a crazy offseason strategy by any means. Especially if they’re serious about getting back to the postseason.
Judging by the teams playing this October, it’s pretty obvious what the Red Sox have to do.