By Brodie Barrick – @barrickMLB
Going into the 2017 season, the Red Sox have the best starting rotation in baseball and only Marcus Stroman of the Toronto Blue Jays thinks differently. They already have 2 Cy Young Award winners in Rick Porcello (2016) and David Price (2012), but that wasn’t enough for Dave Dombrowski, so he pulled the trigger to trade for ace left-hander Chris Sale (Cy Young 2017??). Drew Pomeranz is feeling good after his first bullpen session of the spring and should be a lock for the 4th spot in the rotation, barring any setbacks. So the attention now turns to who will be handed the ball to start the Red Sox 5th game of the season.
In my opinion, it has to be Steven Wright. Wright is coming off a season where he was a 1st time all-star, won 13 games, had a respectable 3.33 ERA and threw 4 complete games. Had John Farrell not used him as a pinch runner during interleague play, Wright may have never gotten hurt and could have still been in the conversation to become only the 2nd knuckleballer to win the Cy Young Award. Yes, Wright had a career year for the Red Sox last year and it is unsure how he will fare this year. However, Wright did enough last year to earn himself a chance to prove he can do it again.
On the other hand, Eduardo Rodriguez has also been considered in running for the 5th spot as well. In a small sample size, Rodriguez has been anything but extraordinary. He struggled to find his groove last year after an injury in Spring Training, and finished the season 3-7 with a 4.71 ERA. He also gave up a whopping 16 homeruns in only 107 IP. To go along with his underwhelming stat line and an injury prone past, Rodriguez joining the rotation would leave the Red Sox staff with 4 left-handed starting pitchers. This could be dangerous playing 81 games at right-handed hitting friendly Fenway Park. Add in the fact that the AL East is littered with heavy-hitting right-handed bats, a rotation with 4 left-handed pitchers could be a recipe for disaster.
Whatever one of the two doesn’t join the starting rotation, they will likely be a very viable option for John Farrell to turn to out of the bullpen and they could give them quality innings. Either way, Farrell will have a big decision to make this spring and hopefully he makes a good one.