Sox Rotation Looks Good to Go for Season

NEWS: The Red Sox optioned RHP Kyle Kendrick to minor league camp on TuesdaySox Rotation morning, (3/28/17). Kendrick is a 32 year old veteran starting pitcher who has spent most of his career with the Phillies so far. He went 3-0 this spring with an ERA of 2.17. Kendrick will look to make his way back to the big leagues (for the first time since 2015) if there are pitching-struggles along the road. With this move, the Sox rotation is looking set to start the 2017 campaign.

Red Sox Rotation as of Right Now

One of the most anticipated areas throughout the entire Sox organization this season is the starting rotation. After the team acquired LHP Chris Sale, Red Sox Nation rejoiced over our potential big-three. LHP David Price is now expected to miss some time to start the year, which means that trio will have to wait. Even though this is the case, the Sox rotation is looking better than ever. The staff is led by reigning Cy Young award-winner Rick Porcello, who went 2-0 in 3 starts in Spring Training. Chris Sale will then enter into the #2 spot in the rotation. Sale went 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA and 26 K’s over 21.0 IP this spring. Sale will look to adjust to the American League East this season, coming originally from Chicago.

Back Half of Sox Pitching Rotation

Since David Price will not be in the rotation to start the year, LHP Eduardo Rodriguez will fill in at #3. E-Rod will be looking to break out in his age 24 season after a successful spring. Rodriguez went 3-0 with a 3.32 ERA with 16 strikeouts. Though Rodriguez is still young, he is gaining valuable big league experience that will help him down the road in his career. The knuckleballer Steven Wright is expected to be in the 4-spot in the rotation come regular-season time. Wright missed time last year after injuring his shoulder while pinch running in a game last season. He will look to bounce back from his injury after pitching rather well in Spring Training. Wright did not allow an earned run in 9 &1/3 innings pitched this preseason.

The final spot in the rotation looks to be Drew Pomeranz’s to start off the season. Pomeranz is looking to make new impressions in Boston after having a disappointing second-half for the team. He spent some time in the bullpen, and it looks as if that is where he will spend some time this year once Price returns. Pomeranz was 0-1 this spring with an ERA of 9.0 in 8 IP.

No matter what, the Red Sox will have viable options throughout their organization to produce for them on the mound. The big-three will be fun to watch, but even if we can’t see that for a little while, the team should fare well enough without it.

A Deep Red Sox Lineup is Farrell’s Biggest Weapon

Red Sox lineup

As Boston pounded Philadelphia on Opening Day, churning out eight runs on nine hits, baseball fans were reminded how, despite incessant worries of porous pitching and overcrowded outfields, the Red Sox have a stacked lineup this year that will be extremely difficult to navigate.

Red Sox LineupThree of the first four hitters, namely Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez, combined for seven hits, five home runs and eight RBI, largely off Cole Hamels, one of the premier starting pitchers in baseball. Such a profound offensive barrage sent shock waves reverberating through the American League.

Meanwhile, David Ortiz, playing first base in a National League park, and newcomer Pablo Sandoval, making his Red Sox debut, went hitless and registered six strikeouts between them. The fact that the Sox hammered the Phillies despite two key guys struggling shows just how deep the Boston lineup is, and how frightening it will become when all of the aforementioned hitters, plus Mike Napoli, find their groove.

The hypothetical top six of Betts, Pedroia, Ortiz, Ramirez, Sandoval and Napoli is quite possibly the most fearsome in all of baseball. It forces a pitcher to deal with a wide array of threats, from the speed and dynamism of Mookie to the switch-hitting and raw power of Pablo; from the patience and hunger of Pedroia to the experience and production of Ortiz. Even Hamels, an elite ace, struggled out of the gate on Opening Day, when faced with the prospect of running Boston’s offensive gauntlet, causing many people to sit up and take notice.

This year, the Red Sox’ lineup will wear down a lot of pitchers and, judging by the early results, collect a lot of big hits. Following a dismal 2014 season, during which Boston lurked near the bottom of every offensive category, it will be a welcome relief for fans to finally have hitters to believe in and rely upon.

It must also be a pleasant change for manager John Farrell, who now has the luxurious ability to mix and match his lineup. For instance, if Ortiz struggles to hit for average, Ramirez could easily move up in the order, just as Pedroia could move down to be replaced in the two hole by Shane Victorino or Xander Bogaerts, further lengthening Boston’s attack.

Certainly, the Red Sox stand out as an offensive force in the American League East, and, if healthy and consistent, the string of prolific hitters atop their lineup could negate the lack of pitching depth to make Boston a serious contender, especially playing their home games at hitter-friendly Fenway.

Regardless of how the season ends, be it with celebrations or commiserations, Sox fans can rest assured that the start was explosive, exciting and entertaining. For the first time in a long while, Boston was back in the baseball spotlight, garnering positive attention for an offensive onslaught rather than negative criticism for hitting profligacy.

Quite frankly, Ben Cherington couldn’t have dreamed it up better.

Mookie Betts Has Come A Long Way Since Last Opening Day

mookie betts

Mooke Betts began the 2015 regular season right where he left off in Spring Training—going 2 for 4, including a home run, an RBI and two runs scored in the Red Sox 8-0 shutout victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Betts led off the bottom of the third inning by lacing an 89 MPH first-pitch cutter frMookie Bettsom Cole Hamels over the left field fence, extending the Red Sox lead to 2-0 at the time. Betts is the youngest player to hit lead off on Opening Day for the Red Sox since Rico Petrocelli did the honors in 1965, according to ESPN.

The road to the show for Betts has been a long one, as the 22-year old Nashville, TN native began last season as the starting second baseman for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs against the Phillies (this time of Reading, PA), before transitioning to center field mid-season.

Betts started that 2014 campaign, one that saw him reach the majors for 55 games with the Red Sox, in a similar fashion to this year. In his first at bat Betts drilled a home run, finishing the day 4 for 4, with three runs scored an a RBI.

“He’s taken an uncommon path to get to this point when you consider last year at spring training he wasn’t even in major league camp and now he’s hitting leadoff in a whole different position,” Red Sox manager John Farrell told Jen McCaffrey of MassLive.com.

Even though the last 12 months or so have been a whirlwind for the young outfielder, Betts has remained humble and focused.

“It feels kind of normal now,” Betts said prior to his Opening Day start. “That I got to play last year, then the off season to think about it, and coming to big league spring training, it’s kind of normal now. I got used to it.”

“Everything starts from zero now—I’m not trying to roll anything over, I’m just trying to go out and continue to do whatever I do.”

Hanley Ramirez Grand in Opening Day Win

Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez and Dustin Pedroia each swatted two home runs, and Mookie Betts had one of his own to pace the Red Sox to an 8-0 rout of the Phillies on Opening Day in Philadelphia.

Clay Bucholz was dominant in seven innings, allowing only three hits and striking out nine,Hanley Ramirez while allowing only one base on balls. The pitcher that so many thought would be starting for the Red Sox today, Cole Hamels, was roughed up in five innings, giving up five hits, four earned runs, and four home runs—the most he has ever allowed in a game at Citizens Bank Park.

All of the Sox offense was via home runs. Pedroia got things started in the first, and two innings later Mookie Betts delivered with a solo bomb, making it 2-0 Red Sox. In the fifth, Pedroia did it again, with another solo shot. Considering he had seven home runs last year, it’s safe to say he’s off to a good start. He was also magnificent in the field.

Another player who is off to a roaring start is Hanley Ramirez. He had a solo shot in the fifth, and then hit a grand slam in the 9th inning to make it 8-0 Sox, joining Jack Clark (1991) and Carlton Fisk (1973) as just the third player in team history to hit a grand slam on Opening Day.

Some of the big bats were quiet today, with David Ortiz and Pablo Sandoval each hitless, and each striking out three times. Shane Victorino went hitless, but reached twice via walks, and even stole third base. He also went charging into the right field wall to make a gutsy catch in the fifth inning. New catcher Ryan Hanigan reached base twice in four appearances, with a single and a walk.

So what did we learn? Buchholz is pacing for Cy Young Award, Pedroia for MVP, and Hanley Ramirez for the Triple Crown? Well, it’s nice to dream like that early on, but what we did learn is that this team should be a lot more fun to watch than the 2014 version was.

Clay Buchholz Looking for Positive Start to 2015 Season

clay buccholz

Clay Buchholz has had some trouble with either staying healthy or being able to consistently pitch at a high level his entire MLB career with the Boston Red Sox, but the 2015 season might be the last straw for the upper management if he can’t pitch like the top of the rotation starter that he has shown glimpses of in the past.

Buchholz Recent Health

The 30-year-old battled through injuries and lack of fastball control in 2014 that ended withBuchholz a 5.34 ERA in 28 starts and an 8-11 record. The 1.39 ERA was his highest since 2008 while his 132 strikeouts were his career-high. He did show signs of being elite with two complete-game shutouts, but that was just an aberration to the awful season he produced.

In 2013, Buchholz pitched to the tune of a 12-1 record with a 1.74 ERA, but missed over half the season with a shoulder injury that was caused by holding his infant child the wrong way while they were napping. The injury derailed the rest of a great campaign as he was the front runner for the Cy Young in the American League at the time of his injury. When he came back in late September, his fastball lost some speed and the rest of his pitches lost the crispness they had earlier in the season.

Over the previous six seasons, Buchholz has modeled inconsistency with injuries and his ability to pitch effectively with no season with over 189 innings pitch or 30 starts. From a no-hitter to a 17-7 season in 2010 to injury after injury in recent memory, Buchholz has not been the veteran the Red Sox can rely on, but could that change?

The 2015 Buchholz

The one thing that Buchholz has going for him is that no one really expects too much from him this season. Sure, he will be started the first game of the season against the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday and struck out nine batters against one of the worst lineups in MLB without allowing a run, but he is the veteran on the staff currently.

The right-hander has shown through the spring that he can still pitch at an effective level with a 2.84 ERA in five games started with a 22:4 K:B ratio. Sure, he posted similar numbers with the ERA in 2014 and spring stats are not really indicative of how the season could go for any player, but pitching as the lead guy in the rotation might be just the kick in the pants Buchholz needs to get off to a hot start.

Also, 2015 is technically a contract year for the 30-year-old as the Red Sox hold a $13 million option for the 2016 season along with a $13.5 million team option for 2017. Most players play well for that final contract and, if Buchholz can pitch to his abilities without worrying about being hurt or being ridiculed for not being mentally tough, then 2015 should be another season that he pitches well enough to be a frontline starter in this Red Sox rotation.

If everything goes well with Buchholz’ changeup and fastball, then maybe he can pitch well enough to earn another year or two with the Red Sox. However, if he struggles, then it might be time to actually add an “ace” who can get the job done in 2016.

Former Sea Dogs Shine for Sox on Opening Day

Opening Day

The Boston Red Sox put on an impressive Opening Day show against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Monday, with many former members of the Portland Sea Dogs contributing in big ways.

Dustin Pedroia, a 2005 alumni of the Sea Dogs, didn’t waste any time Opening Day getting the scoring started when he crushed a first inning, one-out pitch from Cole Hamels over the left field fence for a solo home run.

22-year old Mookie Betts, who was the starting second baseman for the Sea Dogs against the Reading Phillies to begin last season, started in center field and went 2-4 with a long solo home run off Hamels to lead off the third inning.

Pedroia launched another home run to left field with one out in the fifth, showing that for the first time in a few seasons, he may be completely healthy. He added a brilliant defensive play in the bottom of the seventh inning, scooping up a ball on a short hop and firing to second base to force out Grady Sizemore and save a run from scoring.

Sea Dogs Hall of Famer, Hanley Ramirez, who spent 2004-05 with the Double-A club, followed suit in the fifth with a long home run of his own to left field.

Ramirez added his second home run in the top of the ninth inning, a grand slam, giving him five RBI’s on the day to go with two hits, a walk and two runs scored.

Clay Buchholz, a 2007 Double-A All-Star for the Sea Dogs, took a huge step in the right direction in showing he is ready to take over as the ace of the staff. Buchholz fired seven shutout innings, allowing only three hits and a walk while striking out nine. The tall right-hander seemed in complete control of his full arsenal of pitches, throwing 66 of 95 of them for strikes.