When Cliff Lee announced his decision to don pinstripes this season (red ones, not blue), he joined an already stacked pitching rotation in Philadelphia. And while many are already calling the Phillies’ rotation the best of 2011, the Red Sox still have the potential to counter with their own staff.
There just are more ifs attached to Boston’s success.
The Red Sox’ 2011 rotation can compete with Philadelphia if Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz can continue their momentum from the 2010 season.
John Lackey and Josh Beckett can be just as commanding from the mound as Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt if the two Boston hurlers return to form this season. Beckett needs to overcome one of the toughest seasons of his career (6-6, 5.78 ERA), and Lackey needs to find his groove in the competitive AL East. Those two obstacles are difficult, but they are not impossible for either pitcher.
Daisuke Matsuzaka is the biggest if of all on the Red Sox’ rotation. At times during the 2010 season, when he went 9-6 with a 4.69 ERA, Dice-K showed Boston fans that he still has control of his game, but if he comes back for 2011, he’ll definitely start out in the five hole.
The one-two punch of Lester and Buchholz likely will not eclipse the combined efforts of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, but all four will be atop their league standings if they continue their pace from 2010.
While the Phillies are drawing comparisons with some of the best rotations in baseball history, nothing has been put onto the field yet. It’s easy to be blinded by the excitement of their past success, but who knows what will come in the near future?
Instead of speculating their success, let’s take a look at the career numbers of both rotations.
Jon Lester: 61-25, 3.55 ERA, 1.298 WHIP (5 seasons)
Clay Buchholz: 29-21, 3.68 ERA, 1.356 WHIP (4 seasons)
John Lackey: 116-82, 3.89 ERA, 1.320 WHIP (9 seasons)
Josh Beckett: 112-74, 3.96 ERA, 1.244 WHIP (10 seasons)
Daisuke Matsuzaka: 46-27, 4.18 ERA, 1.392 WHIP (4 seasons)
Total: 364-229, 3.88 ERA (32 seasons)
Roy Halladay: 169-86, 3.32 ERA, 1.181 WHIP (13 seasons)
Cliff Lee: 102-61, 3.85 ERA, 1.256 WHIP (9 seasons)
Cole Hamels: 60-45, 3.53 ERA, 1.176 WHIP (5 seasons)
Roy Oswalt: 150-83, 3.18 ERA, 1.184 WHIP (10 seasons)
Kyle Kendrick: 35-24, 4.73 ERA, 1.425 WHIP (4 seasons)
Total: 516-299, 3.51 ERA (41 seasons)
When you compare the staffs, the numbers don’t deviate too far from one another. The Phillies have 152 more combined wins, but they also have nine more total seasons, which is roughly 270 more career starts. The Red Sox’ staff has a combined winning percentage of .614. The Phillies’ rotation has a .633. And the combined career ERAs of both staffs are both in respectable neighborhoods.
The Red Sox have a fighting chance this season if their rotation starts rolling as a cohesive unit.
It may be tough to compete with the Phillies’ lucky hand of four aces, but let’s remember that the Red Sox thrive as the underdog, and with their fierce offense behind them, they could be just as potent as the Philadelphia crew.
Do you think the Red Sox’ rotation will be better than the Phillies’ staff this season? Share your thoughts below.