Posted on March 20, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Apparently, the Boston Red Sox aren’t content with their starting rotation in its current state, even though it includes three former Cy Young winners. The Red Sox are reportedly in the market for another starting pitcher or two, as they hope to add depth at that position amidst a series of injury question marks two weeks from opening day.
The Red Sox began camp with three Cy Young winners at the front of their rotation in David Price, Chris Sale, and last year’s winner Rick Porcello. Boston also had Drew Pomeranz and Steven Wright, both all-stars last season, competing with promising lefty Eduardo Rodriguez for the final two spots in the rotation. However, a slew of injuries has caused the team’s rotation depth to take a hit, creating a need for more starters. Red Sox manager John Farrell said on Monday that the team has been looking for an extra arm or two all along.
“That’s ongoing,” Farrell said about the team’s search for rotation depth. “Our efforts haven’t picked up just because of recent developments. It’s always been there.”
Price dodged serious injury after being shut down with elbow trouble earlier this spring, but he remains unlikely to be part of the rotation when the regular season gets underway. Pomeranz was removed early from his last start because of tightness in triceps, which stirred up trouble after he battled elbow issues the second half of last season. The lefty has thrown just four innings this spring and comments Farrell made Monday indicate Pomeranz won’t be ready by the start of the season. Wright may also be a little behind schedule after getting a late start in spring.
The Red Sox have some internal depth, including Kyle Kendrick, who signed a minor-league contract with Boston after only pitching in the minors last year amidst shoulder trouble. However, the Red Sox don’t appear to have a lot of confidence in the young pitchers who are in line to start the season at triple-A and serve as rotation depth for the big-league club this year.
“It focuses back on those guys who have just been sent out of camp and getting them to the point of being more consistent,” Farrell said of the team’s rotation depth. “Henry Owens and Brian Johnson, those two guys in particular, because they’re healthy and they’re capable. They’re not dealing with physical ailments. We’ve got to make them consistent to be more readily available depth pitching. That’s why Kyle Kendrick’s presence here has become more important by the day.”
Kendrick has thrown 18 innings this spring, posting a 1.50 ERA. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, that Kendrick will break camp as part of Boston’s rotation. Nevertheless, Farrell says the team would like to add another pitcher like Kendrick, a veteran willing to accept a minor-league contract. However, finding another pitcher in that mold has been easier said than done.
“I know every effort was made to try to sign that type of pitcher,” said Farrell. “That tells you the demand for pitching around baseball. We were able to have one type of starter like this in Kendrick.”
The list of free agent starters still available includes Doug Fister, Colby Lewis, and Edwin Jackson. Former Red Sox starter Jake Peavy could also be an option, but not until later in the season after he’s finished dealing with family issues.
At the moment, Porcello, Sale, and Rodriguez figure to be Boston’s top three starters when the season begins, although there remains uncertainty over the final two spots. Wright should be ready sooner rather than later, but when Price and Pomeranz will be ready is unclear.
In the meantime, the Red Sox will continue to look for starting pitching depth beyond Kendrick and younger options like Owens and Johnson. When everybody is healthy, the Red Sox may have the best rotation in baseball, but until that happens, Boston is hoping that injuries and a lack of rotation depth won’t become problems that opposing teams can exploit early in the season.