The most positive development for the Boston Red Sox during spring training, besides Jackie Bradley Jr., has been the impressive performance of the starting rotation.
Right now, the Red Sox look like they have potentially the best rotation in the division.
Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, John Lackey and Felix Doubront have pitched extremely well as a group this spring, pitching to a 2.52 ERA as a group according to Peter Abraham going into Friday’s games.
Whether it is the return of former pitching coach John Farrell now as the manager or simply the removal of the drama that surrounded the team last season, all five pitchers has shown that they are on track to start the season and make an impact.
It’s not just that the Red Sox starters were bad last season, they were historically bad, pitching to Boston’s worst ERA ever.
Lackey looks like he might be back to his Los Angeles Angeles-form and he looks like he might be far more then he has shown so far with Boston. Dempster struggled during his time with the Texas Rangers last season, but has looked solid in camp and simply needs to be an effective number four starter.
Doubront has high-end potential and started to work his way into shape this spring after coming to camp overweight. He pitched effectively for the Red Sox last season and will benefit from having Allen Webster applying pressure from Pawtucket.
The Red Sox simply haven’t had a young pitcher with Webster’s potential waiting in the wings since Buchholz in 2007.
Looking around the division, it not hard to like what you see in comparison to the rest of the division.
The New York Yankees have had a rough spring. The Red Sox may not have a pitcher who matches CC Sabathia, pitch for pitch, but the Red Sox look to have more depth than the Yankees across the board in the rest of the rotation.
The Toronto Blue Jays have been anointed as the class of the division without playing a game. R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle all have the pedigree to be successful, but I would caution everyone that it may not be an easy transition to the American League East for all three pitchers. Brandon Morrow might have the best stuff on the Blue Jays.
David Price is the best pitcher on the Tampa Bay Rays and possibly the league. The Red Sox simply don’t have a pitcher who can match up with Price. Lester has a lot to prove in that regard. But, looking at the remainder of the rotations, it is not difficult to see the Red Sox have the ability in the two through five spots to pitch better than the Rays, especially since James Shields was traded.
The Baltimore Orioles have had a relatively quiet winter compared to the rest of the division. The Orioles no-name rotation far outpitched the Red Sox in 2012, but I would expect that to flip around this season. The Orioles weren’t that good and the Red Sox aren’t that bad.
It’s the pitching. It is as simple as that. The Red Sox will go as far as their rotation led by Lester and Buchholz takes them.
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