Does the Price signing put the 2016 Red Sox back in the drivers seat in the AL East? (Part 1 rotation, part 2 lineup)
The Boston Red Sox made a big splash on Tuesday, signing former Cy Young winner David Price to a record 7 year deal. Which now begs the question, can the Sox win the AL East? Or is it just another big money signing that will have next to no impact (we’re looking at you Hanley and Sandoval)?
Heading into the offseason, the Red Sox most glaring need was pitching. Starting pitching and the bullpen both needed to be addressed. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski did just that. A week before thanksgiving, Dombrowski sent four prospects to San Diego for hard throwing closer Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel has 225 saves in his 5 year career, topping out in 2013 with 50 saves for Atlanta. With Kimbrel sliding into the closer role, the bullpen becomes that much deeper. Koji Urehara now slides into the set up role, and Junichi Tazawa takes over the 7th inning. The sox are hoping that the move effectively shortens games, get to the seventh, and then hand the ball to your pen. The problem with that philosophy, they didn’t have the starters to get them that deep into a game in 2015.
Enter David Price.
With Price now the ace of the staff, it gives the rotation an entirely different look. Price comes in fresh off a year in which he led the league with a 2.45 ERA, 5th in WHIP and IP, while finishing as the runner up for the Cy Young.
Assuming health, Clay Bucholz is now the number two. Clay was having a very solid first half in 2015 until , he was put on the DL and his season was over.
After Bucholz, the 3-5 spots of the rotation becomes much less clear. There are potentially 5 guys, for 3 spots. It could be Rick Porcello, who was statistically one of the worst pitchers in the league, but did pitch substantially better once he kept his pitches, specifically his sinker, low in the zone.
Joe Kelly followed a similar path during the first half of the year, but his first half was so poor, he was sent to Pawtucket. Once he got back up with the big club, he was a far superior to the pitcher he was early in the year. Kelly’s biggest weakness early in the year was trying to blow the fastball by anyone, and everyone he faced. Once he started mixing his pitches, and keeping them down in the zone he became a pitcher that gave the Sox some quality starts. From August 1 through September 15th, Kelly went 8-0, and gave up 2 runs or less in 7 of his 9 starts. Unfortunately he ended the year on the DL as well.
Wade Miley came exactly as advertised. He’s a durable number 4/5 starter, and an innings eater. He has 32 starts, pitched almost 200 innings, and ended with an ERA of 4.46.
Henry Owens and Brian Johnson both started the year in Pawtucket, but were regulars in the rotation by the end of the year. Both had some quality starts, but ideally Owens and Johnson both start the year in Pawtucket.
That brings us to Eduardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez had 21 starts on the year, going 10-6 with a 3.85 ERA, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Rodriguez has electric stuff, but like any rookie, struggled with consistency. In his first 3 starts he went 2-0, 20.2 IP, and 21 strikeouts. He looked like he couldn’t be touched until his fourth start giving up 9 runs in 4.2 innings. The Red Sox need Rodriguez to build on a strong rookie campaign, and give the Red Sox more depth behind Price, and especially Bucholz. If Rodriguez does develop, the depth of the rotation could become the strength of the staff.