2010 Outlook – Starting Pitching

February 22, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized 

If you believe the pundits, 2010 is all about the starting pitching. The organization seems to be going in a different direction after eschewing Jason Bay and his 36 HR’s and 119 RBI for an improved defense and more rotation depth. It’s a nice spin on a failed offseason.

The last time the Sox had “too much” starting pitching depth was the spring of 2006. Bronson Arroyo was viewed as expendable and dealt for batting cage all-star Wily Mo Pena. We all know how that season ended. Boston may indeed have the best starting rotation depth in all of baseball. The looming question, however, is will it be enough to win? The optimist’s view holds that they have 3 number one starters in Beckett, Lester, and Lackey backed by two solid number 3’s out of Dice-K, Buchholz, or Wakefield pitching out of the 4/5 spots. The pessimist’s view is that aside from Lester, everything is far from guaranteed here. The truth, of course, most likely lies somewhere in the middle. Here’s how the Soxwatcher breaks it down:

  1. Jon Lester: Beckett might be the starter on opening day, but Lester is the staff ace. There is still room for improvement, and he might already realistically be considered the best left-handed starter in the AL.
  2. Josh Beckett: a 17 game winner in 2009. Undeniably the best pitcher on the planet in October 2007, but that dominance has shown itself less frequently in each successive season. The August and September breakdown has become the norm. What has changed to indicate 2010 will be any different?
  3. John Lackey: his bulldog demeanor will play well in Boston if he wins. To be sure, he’s a solid number 3, but they didn’t sign C.C. Sabathia. One 19 win season to his credit. His next highest win total is 14.
  4. Daisuke Matsuzaka: the fact that he actually spent the last month getting into shape is certainly encouraging. After 2009’s lost season, it is unclear exactly what the Sox have in Dice-K. Counting on more than 150 innings does seem like a stretch.
  5. Clay Buchholz: the end of his 2009 campaign surely gives reason for optimism. Whether he’s ready to take the ball for 30 starts is still a question.
  6. Tim Wakefield: it seems foolish to bet against Wake. If they can get his best for 15 starts this year, it could help plug any holes that show up over the long season.

Lest we not forget that this same group, save Lackey, pitched its way to the middle of the pack in the American League last season.


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