Josh Beckett’s Early Exit Another Sign Red Sox Must Retool Rotation

Josh Beckett's Early Exit Another Sign Red Sox Must Retool Rotation Editor’s note: NESN.com is going to tell the story of the 2012 Red Sox in Bobby Valentine’s words. Each game day, we will select the best Valentine quote that sums up the day for the Red Sox.

There was plenty of controversy surrounding the Red Sox heading into Thursday night’s series opener with the Cleveland Indians. A 12-18 start to the season saw some hubbub amongst Red Sox fans and the recent 1-6 stretch against far lesser competition certainly didn’t help the cause

The majority of the commotion, however, surrounded starter Josh Beckett‘s recent golf outing, a highly controversial decision while sitting out with a tight lat muscle. But undoubtedly all would be forgiven with a quality outing to break Boston out of their recent skid.

That dream scenario didn’t quite pan out as planned.

Instead, Beckett allowed seven hits and seven earned runs over 2 1/3 innings of work in what turned out to be a disastrous 8-3 loss to Cleveland. The Indians were just a superior team on Thursday, as former Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe pitched like Beckett’s doppelganger allowing just two runs over six solid innings on the mound.

Manager Bobby Valentine wasn’t pleased with the performance, but more than anything explained his frustration with the starting staff as a whole.

“When we start getting consistent innings earlier in games, things will look a lot better,” a reluctantly optimistic Valentine explained after the loss.

Beckett’s sloppy performance is just one more in a long list of rough Sox outings this season. Boston ranks a lowly 26th in quality starts so far this season, with just 12 in a possible 30 outings. Beckett and Jon Lester each own four, but Thursday night certainly wasn’t one of them.

Boston’s least reliable pitcher, Clay Buchholz, is set to take the mound on Friday in hopes of ending the team’s current three-game skid. But while fans remain hopeful, Buchholz track record this season — 33 earned runs in 32 2/3 innings — doesn’t offer much in terms of hope for a sudden turnaround.

The old saying says “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but what about when it is broken, like the Red Sox rotation?

There is no concrete answer to the question, only conjecture and assumption about potential options both inside and outside of the organization.

Aaron Cook seemed to be a likely replacement, but obviously a freak leg injury has him resting up on the 15-day disable list. Daisuke Matsuzaka is another possibility, but after a recent neck problem, the front office is bringing the Japanese phenom along slower than anticipated. Then of course, there’s Roy Oswalt. The man pegged to be a primary Red Sox target heading into the season has been hanging out at home for a few months and might just be getting ready to pitch again sometime soon. But who knows what you’d even be getting from the 34-year-old.

The only real solution to the Red Sox rotation problems would be to switch some things up. Maybe Andrew Miller gets a spot start. He’s looked solid out of the bullpen so far, and he did show some signs of potential during last season. Heck toss Clayton Mortenson a bone, even. The 27-year-old struck out 12 guys in his first nine innings this season, at the very least he deserves a shot.

It all boils down to the quality of the starting pitching, and to that point it doesn’t really matter where it’s coming from. As long as it comes.

This may have been just a minor hiccup in Beckett’s season, and the Red Sox could very well be on the rebound. But until things can be sorted out, this rotation is going to need some sort of maintenance in the meantime.