Last season, the Red Sox starting rotation was one of the biggest reasons the team won the AL East, and eventually the World Series. With the roster changes by the New York Yankees and other teams in the division, the expectations for the Red Sox starting rotation will be at an all-time high. Here is what I expect out of the five starters in 2014.
Jon Lester: If spring training is any indication on how Lester will perform in 2014, then he could have one of the best seasons of his career. In three spring starts, the 30-year-old has allowed one run in 12 2/3 innings. The second half of the 2013 season, Lester was among the best pitchers in baseball, as he finished with a 7-2 record and 2.57 ERA. Lester is the Red Sox’s ace and I expect the nine-year veteran to have an all-star type season.
John Lackey: Prior to the 2013 season, many considered the John Lackey signing one of the worst in Red Sox history. Last season however, he became one of the Red Sox better pitchers. Lackey finished the 2013 postseason with a 3-1, which was capped off by his game six clinching victory to win the World Series. While I don’t expect him to finish the regular season with a 3.52 ERA again, I do expect Lackey to finish with about 12-14 wins for the Red Sox.
Felix Doubront: Doubront came to spring training in the best shape of his career. He finished the 2013 season with a record of 11-6. Last season, he also had a stretch of 19 games with a 2.99 ERA from May to August. Expect more of the Doubront we saw late in the season and also in the playoffs. With Buchholz moving down to the fifth spot in the rotation, more will be expected from Doubront in 2014.
Jake Peavy: Peavy’s production has never been a question, his health has. Despite the fact he remained healthy after he came over in a trade from the White Sox last season, the 33-year-old has had a number of trips on the DL in years past. In 10 starts after the trade, Peavy compiled a 4-1 record with a 4.04 ERA. If he can stay off the disabled list, I expect more of the same from Peavy.
Clay Buchholz: Some Red Sox fans ask why manager John Farrell would make a former two-time All-Star with a 12-1 record last season the number five starter in the rotation. Buchholz is the team’s fifth starter because he hasn’t shown the ability to stay healthy. In 2013, it was a neck strain that kept him out until September. In June 2011, Buchholz suffered a stress fracture that kept him out for the rest of the season. When he pitches, he is one of the better pitchers in baseball. If the Red Sox can limit Buchholz’s starts at the fifth spot, this could provide a boost at the back of the rotation.