As the Red Sox enter the home stretch of a pennant race, it would be silly not to recognize the excellence of their starting pitching. At one point this season, fans were begging the Red Sox to pick up any starting pitcher available.That is how bad the Red Sox starters were. Red Sox starters have dominated the last month and a half and it is no surprise that they’re back in the hunt for a division title. Everyone has had success in the rotation lately, but maybe the most important piece has been Eduardo Rodriguez.
Rodriguez came into this season with a lot of hype surrounding him. He won 10 games last year as a rookie and looked to be a blossoming young star. His 2016 campaign did not get off to the start he wanted; his first start of the season came in late May and he struggled in the first half. His low-light: a June game in Tampa where he was shelled for nine runs on 11 hits. Unable to make it out of the third inning, the debacle led to him being chewed out on the mound mid-game by Dustin Pedroia.
Rodriguez’s Second Half
Rodriguez was sent down to Pawtucket in late June due to his struggles. Since the All-Star Break he is only 1-3 but has a 2.73 ERA. He has brought his ERA from the brutal June 8.59 down to 4.83. The highlight of Rodriguez’s comeback has been his last three starts. In those starts he has only given up five runs in 18 and 1/3 innings. Sunday was definitely Rodriguez’s best start. He pitched 7 and 2/3 no hit innings and shutout the A’s for a full eight innings. Unfortunately for him, the Red Sox found a way to lose the game and “E-Rod” received a ‘no-decision’ for his efforts.
The most impressive part about Rodriguez’s turnaround? His complete change of attitude on the mound. While in Pawtucket, Rodriguez had to develop secondary pitches after leading the league in fastball percentage. He improved his slider and change up tremendously during that stint. When he was rushed back up to Boston, he flourished. He is pitching with confidence and craftsmanship.
The way Rodriguez and the starting rotation are going right now, the Red Sox have a great chance at playing postseason baseball again. Looking at this recent success, it is hard to understate the importance of Eduardo Rodriguez’s maturation.
Despite being a great pitcher for the Boston Red Sox for an extended period of time, it seems almost certain he will not be playing for them ever again.
Dealt to Oakland at the trade deadline along with Jonny Gomes, Boston cashed out on the Athletics’ rental obtaining Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes in the deal.
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Lester was a major addition to the Oakland Athletics and was supposed to help lead them to a World Series title. Instead, the whole team collapsed going 22-33 in their final 55 games of the season. Lester on the other hand was spectacular and managed to post a 2.35 ERA in 11 starts for his new team.
2014 was Jon Lester’s best season to date without a doubt. The 30-year-old Washington native held his ERA down to 2.46 while striking out 220 men in 219.2 innings making him hands down one of the top pitchers in the league. Some may even argue that he out-pitched Detroit Tigers ace Max Scherzer who posted a 3.15 ERA on the year. Both of them are free agents this off season.
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As one of the most desirable pitchers on the market, it appears as though Jon Lester will not be making a return to Boston. It is not that he could not come back to the Red Sox, it is more that the odds of it happening are highly unlikely.
Draft pick compensation clearly is not the issue here as any team who wants to compete would be willing to give up a draft pick to get one of the top pitchers in the league in the prime of his career.
Re-signing with his current team is not an issue either simply because the Athletics are one of baseball’s poorest teams.
The real problem stems from his contract. Odds are, Lester will get locked up to some sort of a record breaking contract where he earns over $20 million a year to pitch 32 games a year for anywhere from eight to ten years. Essentially, the team who wants Lester might as well give him a blank check .
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If Boston had the desire to re-sign Lester, they likely would have kept him at the trade deadline instead of dishing him out west. Moving him at that point in time seemed to be a clear indication that he was no longer a part of their plans. Instead right now, James Shields and Cole Hamels seem to be the cheaper, more appealing options for the Red Sox to fill their rotation with talent.
Just an afterthought: recently, Jon Lester put his $1.85 million dollar home in Newton up for sale. What this implies, who knows? It does seem to lean towards the fact that he may be leaving Red Sox Nation forever.
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