Monday, November 18, 2013

The 2014 Red Sox Rotation and Beyond

Edit: All projections are Steamer projections found on Fangraphs.com The Boston Red Sox have a excess of pitching both at the Major league level and prospects all cracking the Top 100 lists making the future rotation a tough choice, but a good position for the team.  Here are the current pitchers with contracts making them a must start if still with the 2014 Red Sox.

Jon Lester

The unquestioned ace on the team right now with durability and solid stuff.  He's not the pitcher he was in 2008 and 2009, but he's going to be here and unless the team adds a Felix Hernandez type he's going to be the #1 starter.  He's also due for a contract after having his $13M option picked up for 2014.

2014 Projection - 12-9, 3.75 ERA, 140 K, 67 BB

Clay Buchholz

You could argue John Lackey is the new number two, but when healthy Buchholz is an amazing pitcher and could be the true dominant ace this team wants, but he's yet to reach 200 IP in a season and the neck issue is not going away.  He showed he could pitch with pain in the playoffs, but the velocity drop showed he probably shouldn't.  If the right deal came along Buchholz might be one of the top on my list to move.


2014 Projection - 10-8, 4.08 ERA, 115 K, 51 BB

John Lackey

The amazing things Tommy John can do to save a pitcher even without a major jump in velocity Lackey has been able to have a very good season in 2013.  His xFIP was the best in his career and only a poor amount of run support resulted in the 10 and 13 record.  A regression in strikeouts and walks though in 2014 might bring him back a bit, but not enough to make him a bad choice to keep in Boston once more.

2014 Projection - 12-9, 3.77 ERA, 136 K, 46 BB

Felix Doubront

I've never been a huge Doubront guy, but lefties can always get work in the majors and he's an acceptable #4 or 5 on almost any team.  He's also going to continue to be a cheap contract for now, but expecting anything less than an ERA between 4 and 4.50 is looking for to much.  His strikeouts dropped a lot last season and he continues to walk a ton.  In the end he should probably be the #5 or long relief for this team.  At the same time Steamer projections below show him to equal Buchholz in 2014 for what it's worth.

2014 Projection - 10-8, 4.08 ERA, 124 K, 60 BB

Jake Peavy

If the Red Sox think Peavy is only going to be as good as he was during his stint in Boston last season then there needs to be discussion about moving him this offseason.  At the same time he has been a better pitcher while in the AL with Chicago and pitching in a hitter friendly park.  The biggest question is why couldn't he strike anyone out after getting nearly a batter per inning during his 2013 in his White Sox.  Looking ahead to his projections he' on par with Lackey, but for obvious reasons I feel better keeping Lackey.

2014 Projection - 12-9, 3.79 ERA, 141K, 44 BB

Brandon Workman

Workman did not take to relief work during the season and struggled with an ERA of 6.94 in the role.  He showed everyone wrong in the playoffs by tossing 8.2 scoreless innings.  That might have looked nice, but it was quite lucky as he continued to walk a lot of hitters, but also only had 4 K in the playoffs.  I think Workman is going back to starting and that should probably be where he belongs.  He's not one of the Red Sox best prospects, but a solid arm who could continue to also fill the starter/long relief role until he shows more.

2014 Projection - 6-4, 3.82 ERA, 71 K, 28 BB

Prospects

The 2013 season was a much better feeling for the Red Sox organization not only for what the major league team, but for how the minor league system produced.  In 2012 several prospects took steps back and the team was concerned about the minor league system and how far off everyone was.  This season the team had several prospects take huge steps and even with Allen Webster failing in his first shot at the majors he still impressed at Triple A.

After the season the team currently stands with Henry Owens, Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo and Allen Webster all reaching high levels on many of the end of season prospect rankings.  Both Barnes and Ranaudo finished the season in Pawtucket and Webster had several shots in Boston.  The biggest climber has been left hander Henry Owens.  He's certainly getting a lot of attention, but he'll be brought along slowly as he suffers from fatigue resulting in velocity loss and still walks far to many hitters.

The team will not be hesitant to use any of Webster, Ranaudo or Barnes next season if needed.  Owens while probably the top now in terms of scouting will probably head back to Double A to get more seasoning and work on stamina and control.  He's probably going to threaten the rotation later in the year or for sure in 2015.

2014 Projections
Webster - 3-3, 4.52 ERA, 39 K, 24 BB
All others are not projected for more than 1.0 IP

Conclusions

The Red Sox have a plethora of pitchers both veterans and prospects and those in between.  They don't really have to feel forced to move any though as the middle of the rotation has been injury plagued and they will need options like Webster and Workman to pitch many important innings this upcoming season.  Sure it sounds good to think you could move this crop for someone like Giancarlo Stanton, but that's highly unlikely and also potentially not worth the cost.

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