Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Red Sox 2014 Position Outlook: Starting Pitching


Depth, depth, and more depth. When looking at a team’s starting rotation, there is nothing more important than depth. The Boston Red Sox have preached this concept for the last decade or so and it is a large reason for their success (That and David Ortiz). Let’s take a look at what’s in place for this year’s rotation:

Willy

Jon LesterI have been highly critical of Jon over the past few years. After watching him dominate in the playoffs, I’ve decided to back off and take a “Let’s wait-and-see” type of approach going forward. When Jon is on his game he’s a very good pitcher. When he’s off his game he’s very hittable. Big question with him going forward is, “Will he stay or will he go?”

John LackeyBig Lack is another pitcher I’ve been critical of for a while now but that stopped abruptly last season when he showed exactly what he’s capable of when healthy. Though I don’t expect the same kind of numbers from him this season, I do expect him to be solid.

Clay Buchholz- This is a pitcher that drives me insane. Clay has such great “stuff”, I love to watch him work but when is he healthy? I would love for Clay to remain healthy this season, even if it means skipping a start here or there. He is another starter that I don’t expect to copy his previous season numbers but expect to be good just the same.

Jake PeavyI referred to Jake as a “Bull dog” last year and not because he grunts after almost every pitch but because he’s such a competitor. If he can remain healthy for the season I expect him to actually improve on his stats. Let’s not forget, Jake is still adapting to being a finesse pitcher, when he was previously a power pitcher.

Felix DoubrontThis big cat is another maddening pitcher. At times he can baffle the opposition and then at other times he’s extremely hittable. Felix must learn to commit to his craft, come into camp in-shape and follow his coach’s advice. I would love to see him pitch more than 5-6 innings at a time, which he could do if he conditioned himself to do so. No more babying, take off the training wheels and let’s go!

Chris CapuanoMany people may have been left scratching their heads after hearing of this signing. Chris is a Massachusetts native who has spent his entire career far away from New England. Never elite and has always been a #5 pitcher. In my opinion he will be used as a long reliever, a spot starter or a mop up man.

 Phil Bausk

The front of the rotation is rock solid. Lester showed he can still strike guys out, something that evaded him in the past two seasons, at least compared with his previous years. If Lester can stay away from overuse of his cutter, he should replicate last season, hopefully with a few less innings on his arm. I say hopefully with the idea that Clay Buchholz can start about 30 games this season.

Buchholz is this team’s best pitcher. When he is on, he is among the game’s best and even when he is off, he isn’t much worse. The problem is his frame. Unlike Pedro Martinez, Buchholz has issues maintaining his health especially because of size. Back problems have bothered him for a few years due to his height and delivery, but each year, it seem as though Buchholz is primed to stay low and get through most of the season. I think this year, he has his best season and is a contender for the Cy Young.

Lackey and Peavy are fantastic as three and four starters. Lackey just needs to keep pounding that fastball and miss low. He also has health issues, but at his new weight, it seems that Lackey has found some stability. Peavy will be fun to watch all season. He certainly had his moments last year, but is starting to show signs of his age. I think between these two starters, we should see 27 wins and around a 4.00 ERA, plus all of the emotion both pitchers bring to the mound.

As we get deeper into the roster, it’s nice to see what the Sox can throw on the field. Felix Doubront needs to keep hitters off balance and not walk anyone in the first three innings. He has issues with his control and that keeps him from going deeper into games. He also needs to let batters get themselves out. Doubront spends much time figuring out how to strike out opposing batters, instead of just getting them out.

Chris Capuano is the primary fill-in, which isn’t terrible, but it’s the young guys looking to make the roster and get some starts that excite me. Allen Webster wasn’t great during his stints with the club, but is a great pitcher for Fenway Park. Rubby De La Rosa is the guy to watch this season. Let’s see if he can continue his progression and keep striking guys out at an alarming rate.

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Tags: Boston Red Sox Clay Buchholz Felix Doubront Jake Peavy John Lackey Jon Lester