MLB Boston Red Sox

Projecting the 2013 Boston Red Sox Rotation

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Projecting the 2013 Boston Red Sox Rotation

G. Aiken - USA TODAY Sports

There's no question that one of the biggest questions last season was the state of the Boston Red Sox pitching rotation. Just before the beginning of the 2012 season, the Red Sox lost John Lackey to season ending Tommy John surgery. The whole in the starting rotation forced the Red Sox to stretch former all-star Daniel Bard to a starting pitcher, an experiment which failed after he lost command his pitches and was sent to the Pawtucket Red Sox in AAA.

Former Red Sox pitching coach, John Farrell, returns after spending two seasons with, American League East opponent, Toronto Blue Jays. During his three years with the Red Sox, 2007-10, Farrell was the team's pitching coach, and was part of the 2007 World Champion team. With his return to the clubhouse, most Red Sox fans are hoping Farrell can get the pitching back on the right track. Lackey is also returning from the disabled list, and the Red Sox hope that their manager can get him moving in the right direction back to the pitcher they signed to a five-year contract worth $82.5 million in 2009.

The Red Sox also added free agent right hander Ryan Dempster to the fold. Dempster signed a two-year contract worth $26.5 million after the 2012 season. The question is, who fits in where and how will the rotation look come opening day?

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1. Jon Lester (LHP)

Kelvin Kuo - USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 9-14, 4.82 ERA, 1.383 WHIP, 166 K, 205.1 IP

Jon Lester is clearly the ace of the Boston Red Sox pitching staff. Although he had a rough year in 2012, Lester will bounce back and be the leader of the pitching staff this season.

Lester is in the final guaranteed year of the five-year, $30 million deal he signed back in 2009. The left-hander has a team option for the 2014 season worth $13 million. So in a way, Lester is playing for a contract and will look to use that as fuel to become the Red Sox best starting pitcher in 2013.

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2. Clay Buchholz (RHP)

Bob DeChiara - USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 11-8, 4.56 ERA, 1.326 WHIP, 129 K, 189.1 IP

Clay Buchholz won the second most games in his career for the Boston Red Sox in 2012. Although he won 11 games, his earned run average was up over 4.50, and his WHIP was over 1.3. Buchholz did pitch a career high 189.1 inning and recorded a career high 129 strikeouts.

With the return of John Farrell to the bench, Buchholz will try to work back to his 2010 form. Already the second best starter on the Red Sox, Buchholz will prove to the Red Sox organization this season that he is the real deal.

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3. Felix Doubront (LHP)

Jim Cowsert - USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 11-10, 4.86 ERA, 1.447 WHIP, 167 K, 161.0 IP

Prior to last season, Felix Doubront had only appeared in 33 games for the Boston Red Sox and started only three. In 2012, Doubront set career highs in wins, losses, innings, and strikeouts. His 4.86 ERA isn’t something to be proud of, but it was par for the course on the Red Sox last season and as a lefty, Doubront is a good piece to have.

The No. 3 spot in the rotation may be a bit high for Doubront coming into only his second full season with the Red Sox, but the lefty-righty-lefty will be worth it. As a bonus, the current New York Yankees are 13-for-69 (.188) against Doubront since he entered the majors in 2010.

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4. John Lackey (RHP)

Greg M. Cooper - USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: Did not play due to injury

John Lackey sat out the entire 2012 season due to Tommy John Surgery. In 2011, Lackey was 12-12 with a 6.41 ERA and a 1.619 WHIP. Needless to say, he is not the same pitcher the Boston Red Sox signed in 2010.

Many optimistic Red Sox fans are hoping that coming off the surgery, Lackey will return to form and pitch more like he did for the Los Angeles Angels. The other Red Sox fans are just completely writing him off, and expecting more of the same from the 34-year-old righty.

Lackey will most likely start fourth in the rotation when the season gets underway, but if he under-performs, he will be pushed to fifth.

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5. Ryan Dempster (RHP)

Greg M. Cooper - USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 12-8, 3.38 ERA, 1.197 WHIP, 153 K, 173.0 IP

After spending all of his career in the National League, Ryan Dempster was traded at the deadline last season to the Texas Rangers.

While with the Chicago Cubs in 2012, Dempster posted a 5-5 record with a 2.25 ERA. After the trade, he went 7-3, but had a 5.09 ERA in 12 games.

The Boston Red Sox are hoping to see the Dempster that pitched for the Cubs last season, and not the Dempster who pitched for the Rangers. Having the 35-year old holding the fifth spot in the rotation takes some pressure off of his shoulders.