After a 2011 season that saw ten different pitchers get MLB starts, the Boston Red Sox are going down a different route in 2011.
None of Boston’s starters thew over 200 innings, with just two, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester, qualified for the ERA title. Three of Boston’s six starters who started double digit games, Tim Wakefield, John Lackey and Andrew Miller, had ERAs over 5.00. Pretty much, the reason that the Red Sox missed the 2011 playoffs was because of injuries to their starting pitching staff.
The Red Sox have bolstered their corps of starters for 2012 with minor league deals to major league veterans Aaron Cook, Carlos Silva and Justin Germano, entering discussions with former Dodgers spot starter/reliever Vicente Padilla, and re-signing enigmatic former top prospect Rich Hill. Add those players (of varying success levels) to the 2011 fifth starter holdovers of Wakefield, Miller, and reliever Alfredo Aceves, and the Red Sox have at least a few options to fill their rotation holes.
But is Boston even going to need these extra players? Beckett and Lester are written into the rotation with ink, and if Clay Buchholz is healthy in 2011, a year in which he started just 14 games, he’ll be ready too. So that takes care of three of Boston’s five rotation spots, and that doesn’t even begin to touch on Daisuke Matsuzaka in his return from Tommy John surgery.
Here’s the problem for the Red Sox: injuries happen. And the cast of characters they’ve assembled for the fifth spot in the rotation isn’t a list of All-Stars. But then again, many teams don’t have the back to back punch at the top of the rotation like the Red Sox, and the stellar offense they possess as well.
And one injury already has happened, with Lackey requiring Tommy John surgery that will put him out for all of 2012. So that knocks Boston’s pool of starters down to three. When a team is looking to fill the final two slots in its rotation with guys like Cook, Silva and Germano, it might be a long season. Boston had better hope that Buchholz, Lester, and Beckett are all available to throw 200 innings, otherwise, the playoffs could be a pipe dream, even with their formidable lineup.