Over the past couple of days, plenty of jokes have been made about David Price being the Red Sox only “legitimate” starting pitcher — as if the other four were some sort of bums.
Say disgruntled fans are right about that, it might not really matter as much as they might think. Pitching might win ballgames according to just about every baseball cliche in existence, but this looks to be a Red Sox lineup capable of scoring runs, lots of runs.
Remember how the Red Sox just could not hit at the beginning of last season? Well, they finished the season with a .740 OPS, the sixth-highest among big league teams.
On top of that, offensive-minded Hanley Ramirez was not much at the plate after his trip to the disabled list and down the stretch, Rusney Castillo was one of the team’s starting outfielders albeit he posted a .566 OPS against right-handers last season. And Pablo Sandoval being on the bench has to make fans feel a little bit better too.
And mound might not even be as big of an issue as some might think. Price should be one of the top guys. But Eduardo Rodriguez pitched well once he stopped tipping his pitches, Clay Buchholz, albeit injury prone, has his days and Joe Kelly pitched well down the stretch last season.
Spring numbers aside, even Rick Porcello was 4-6 with a 3.53 ERA in the second half last season. He was striking out nearly a batter an inning. Truth be had though, he posted a 4.64 ERA in 121 outings (118 starts) with the Tigers from 2010-2013. It is tough to say how the Red Sox decided to pay him so much — other than being a 26-year-old coming off the best year of his career.
Depth is not an issue either. Full strength, long man Steven Wright will be the team’s No. 6 starter. Henry Owens was in the team’s rotation for the final two months of last season. Roenis Elias spent most of the last two seasons in the Seattle Mariners rotation. Sean O’Sullivan was the Philadelphia Phillies No. 5 starter for much of last season. And Brian Johnson, who made his MLB debut last season, is one of the Red Sox top prospects. All of them are in the PawSox rotation.
And that does not even touch on the bullpen, which features the one-two punch of Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel in the eighth and ninth respectively.