Drew Pomeranz isn’t a flashy name like Sonny Gray or Chris Sale, but his trade Thursday from the San Diego Padres to the Red Sox still fills a need for Boston.
The Red Sox have their ace in David Price, and Rick Porcello and Steven Wright have been two big bright spots, but the rest of the starting rotation is filled with question marks.
Ideally the fifth starter would be Eduardo Rodriguez or Clay Buchholz, but both pitchers have struggled. Buchholz has made two separate trips to the bullpen, and Rodriguez recently was sent to Triple-A Pawtucket after a disastrous start against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Will either Rodriguez or Buchholz earn back their spots in the rotation? Or will someone else end up on the mound for the Red Sox by the end of the season? And will that person be someone the team acquired prior to the MLB trade deadline?
Those are some of the important questions still facing Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. But in the meantime, let’s see what the rotation looks like before the start of the second half.
Yes, Price hasn’t pitched up to his capability this season, but he’s clearly the ace of this staff. There’s no need to change that, although an abundance of front-end starters would be a nice treat for any team. That said, Price’s stats are something to keep an eye on in the second half. He has a 4.34 ERA and already has allowed 16 home runs, but that hasn’t stopped him from striking out opponents at a staggering rate — 149 total strikeouts and a 10.13 K/9.
Porcello arguably has been one of Boston’s two best starting pitchers in 2016 with his 11-2 record and 3.66 ERA in 113 innings. He’s also a definite for Boston’s rotation going forward, even if his production dips a little in the second half.
Wright has had a remarkable 2016 campaign, and he was rewarded for his efforts with a 2016 All-Star nod. Sure, he didn’t pitch in the Midsummer Classic, but Boston fans know quite well how much he has meant to the team with his 10-5 record and 2.68 ERA in 114 innings.
Pomeranz obviously will have his chance after the Red Sox traded for him. For fans who might not know much about him, the left-hander is having a breakout season. The 2016 All-Star already has pitched more innings than he ever has in a major league season (102), and he owns a 2.47 ERA in 17 starts.
And this is where things get interesting. Boston has some potential internal candidates with Rodriguez, who will be back in the big leagues Saturday to pitch against the New York Yankees, and Buchholz. But neither has stepped up yet this season. The Red Sox also have used Joe Kelly, Roenis Elias, Sean O’Sullivan and Henry Owens as starters.
Those pitchers have the next few weeks before the deadline to prove to the Red Sox that they can be the fifth starter for the rest of the season. But if no one does, there’s always the possibility of another deal.
In that case, Boston would need to figure out what kind of starter it wants. It could go after another No. 1 or 2 like Gray or Jose Fernandez, or a middle-of-the-rotation arm like old friend Rich Hill. And if baseball ops ultimately decides the Red Sox need to add another arm, they have shown a willingness to do so.
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