Lucky for John Lackey, we are flush with pitchers across all levels of the franchise, from Portland to Boston. Plenty of cooks in the kitchen, but who should be picked to fill out the fifth spot in the rotation as Lackey heals his strained bicep?
From the Boston bullpen, Joel Hanrahan and Alfredo Aceves, are the only two candidates that stand out to me. They are both closers and both used to high pressure situations. However, I do not see them doing more than 3.5 innings at best. No matter, it would give the games they pitch a strong start. Hanrahan has two saves in the current season in as many starts. Career stats include a 1.38 WHIP, and a 2.71 ERA. Interestingly enough, Lackey has a 1.38 WHIP in 2013, too. Perhaps, the numbers are pointing us in Hanrahan’s direction.
The other possibility I see is Aceves. We must watch out for Aceves’ hot head, and, yes I know he did not do so great the other day, but his career stats boast a 1.15 WHIP and an iffy 3.65 ERA. This season his WHIP stands at 1.62, which was the same stat Lackey had in 2011 after 28 games in that season. I think because of his closer’s mentality he would be a good pick.
Call it superstition, but the numbers seem to point in the direction of Hanrahan and Aceves. I think these are some good alternatives for John Farrell to keep in mind. Aceves had some starts in Spring Training with a some success. I think what the clubhouse, and others, fear is Aceves’ emotions getting the best of him. He must be calm, cool, and collected to be an effective starter.
The name that stands out on the Pawtucket roster is Steven Wright. We do not have a solid knuckleballer in our starting five. After the departure of Tim Wakefield, I do not think we acquired another person that can change the pace and momentum of the game the way he did. I think baseball players, and athletes of all kinds, thrive on momentum. There is nothing more disruptive than someone throwing a much slower paced ball, when all you want are 95 MPH fastballs. To start a game at a much slower pace for those hitters facing Wright, would throw teams off their game immediately. Getting in their heads early and often would be fun to watch. Last season Wright helped the PawSox win the Governors’ Cup for the first time in 28 years with a 2.54 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP.
Do you think these guys are likely candidates for Lackey’s place in the rotation? If not, who would you like to see pitching?