Rotation depth is really what helped the Red Sox get to October and eventually win the World Series. The trade deadline deal with the White Sox and Tigers netting the Red Sox Jake Peavy for the stretch run definitely made a difference. Peavy won four of ten starts once acquired, filled in for Clay Buchholz in the rotation who had been out since early June. The Sox gave the ball to Allen Webster and Brandon Workman at other times across last season. Webster did not have the greatest go at it but Workman looked great in a short sample and eventually was moved to the bullpen and was getting important outs in the eight inning of the World Series. Who will be the pitchers counted on for depth this season?
With Jake Peavy having a cutting his index finger due to a fish hook accident, depth might come into play right away this season. With Ryan Dempster announcing he would not play this season the first week of spring training the Sox turned to Chris Capuano who made his first spring start Wednesday against the Cardinals. The extent to Peavy’s injury is relatively unknown but he did throw off flat ground and will look to throw off a mound soon. Peavy has the bulldog attitude that he won’t be out for long but still this seems to be a concern if he doesn’t get in spring games soon. Peavy could be positioned as the fifth starter meaning he wouldn’t start until April 5th.
It seems Capuano would get the first look if a starter goes down this year as he is the most experienced and the young pitchers could use a little more seasoning in the minors. Capuano is experienced in the National League but could benefit from Fenway Park. Webster gave up 3 runs in his first spring start against the Twins only pitching 1 2/3 innings but did shut down the Marlins yesterday with 3 shutout innings. Webster, only 24 was acquired in the Dodgers trade of 2012, could soon be passed in the line with more starters expected to be getting time in AAA Pawtucket this season. Rubby De La Rosa also acquired in that trade did not pitch a great deal last season recovering from Tommy John surgery might be better fit in a relief role. He also did not fare well in his first spring outing giving up 4 runs to the Rays Tuesday.
My pick after Capuano if a starter goes down would be Brandon Workman. Workman was relatively unknown last season until he was placed on the postseason roster and took the hearts of Red Sox fans getting key outs down the stretch. Workman did not give up an earned run in seven postseason appearances and that was huge for a gutted Sox bullpen from the start of the season. Workman will not be overlooked this season, as John Farrell knows what he has in Workman. Keep an eye on Anthony Ranaudo and Matt Barnes, who will likely start the season in Pawtucket. Ranaudo struck out four Twins in two innings of work in his first spring appearance and was added to the 40-man roster this off-season. Barnes has been shut down for a few days with should fatigue and the Sox are not taking any chances on the fireballer from UConn.
Drake Britton looked good in stretches for the Sox last season and was a lefty out of the pen with the loss of Andrew Miller. With Franklin Morales and Matt Thornton ahead of him on the depth chart he was left off the postseason roster and might fit better as a full time reliever for the Sox. Another lefty to keep an eye on will be Henry Owens who finished the season in AA Portland and could be in AAA by June. Owens a 6’6 lefty is the Sox 4th rated prospect according to MLB.com and might pass all the names I said that is how good he could be.
With double headers and unexpected injuries that occur it is safe to say that Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, and Jake Peavy all won’t make 30 starts for the Sox this season. Buchholz took a while to come back last season from a freak injury. Doubront broke down towards the end of the season in his first season with a full workload. Lester and Lackey were horses down the stretch and into the postseason and will be not pushed too hard early on in the season. Teams with depth in the rotation are usually the ones in October and expect the Red Sox to have even better depth this season.