The Boston Red Sox?s rotation could be looked at in one of two ways: They either don?t have a No. 1 starter or they have five pitchers capable of being No. 1 starters.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell are subscribing to the latter theory. While no one is going to mistake Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, Rick Porcello, Wade Miley or Justin Masterson for a true ?ace? going into 2015, the men in charge are very optimistic about how the starting rotation is shaping up this offseason.
“Every guy that evolved into a No. 1 kind of pitcher, they had opportunity and they had support and they performed their way into those roles,” Farrell said Saturday during the organization?s Christmas at Fenway event. “We feel like there are candidates like that in the rotation who could emerge into that. The guy that goes to the mound, he’s the No. 1 starter.”
The Red Sox did a lot of heavy lifting at last week?s Major League Baseball winter meetings in San Diego. They acquired Porcello, Miley and Masterson in three separate transactions without surrendering any of their top-tier pitching prospects, including Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, Eduardo Rodriguez, Brandon Workman, Anthony Ranaudo and Matt Barnes. Boston seemingly has the depth to withstand injuries and/or ineffectiveness if no other major deals are consummated this winter.
?If you look past the five guys you pencil in the rotation right now, we still feel like we have a good six or seven young pitchers beyond that who are all capable of being very good major league pitchers, and many of them major league starters in the not-so-distant future,? Cherington said Friday during a conference call. ?Of course, we don?t know exactly what date that will happen on. It is certainly possible one or two of them could get a look in a bullpen role if the opportunity is there.”
Cherington didn?t rule out the Red Sox making additional moves while speaking with reporters before leaving last week?s winter meetings. Opening Day is more than three months away, and there are several starting pitchers still available, both in free agency and on the trade market. The GM isn?t sold on the notion Boston needs to add an ace to contend in 2015, though. His focus is on building the best and deepest pitching staff from top to bottom.
?We?ll leave the (rotation) order up to John (Farrell) and (pitching coach) Juan (Nieves) to figure out during the spring,? Cherington said Friday. ?We feel like the five guys that we have right now you put in the rotation, Wade (Miley) included, any of those five guys can help us win a game on any given day.
?I think once Opening Day is gone, the whole No. 1 starter thing is overrated. Whoever takes the ball that night is their responsibility to help us win and pitch every five days, so the order doesn?t really matter as much once you get past Opening Day.?
Any one of the Red Sox?s five current starters could take the ball when Boston opens its season April 6 in Philadelphia. It?s a concerning reality for some but an encouraging sign for others.
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