So all players have reported to Spring Training earlier than expected, as David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia reported today (2/22). The infield seems to be set, as well as the outfield and bullpen, but there are still a number of question marks in this starting rotation.
With the signing of David Price, Boston's rotation was instantly made better overnight. While David Price helped solid a top of the rotation arm for the Red Sox, he will only be taking the ball every fifth day. His influence and leadership may rub off on guys like Eduardo Rodriguez, Brian Johnson and Henry Owens, but there is still a gaping hole and needed commodity behind David Price.
One's immediate response could be Clay Buchholz. The 31-year-old Texan has been riddled with injuries throughout his entire career, but possesses some of the best stuff in all of baseball. When Buchholz is healthy, he shows signs of dominance and the possibility of being on of the best pitchers in baseball. Unfortunately, relying on Buchholz to throw 200 innings and make 30 starts is just too big of a risk. With 7 years of MLB service under his belt, Buchholz has pitched over 18 starts only three times.
On the other of the spectrum, we have Rick Porcello. After signing a 4-year, $82.5 million contract with Boston before he even threw a pitch, many thought he could be one of the better pitchers in the game as he matured. Unfortunately, the exact opposite has happened. In 28 starts last year, Porcello went 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA. Sorry, but that's not going to cut it. Could he be a serviceable #3 in his second full season with the Red Sox? Sure, but don't expect much from this guy.
Then there is Eduardo Rodriguez. The talented sophomore had a decent rookie season, going 10-6 with a 3.85 ERA and 98 strikeouts. Last season, E-Rod seemed to have an issue tipping his pitches, as well as pitching during the day. Fortunately, it looks as if the Red Sox pitching coaches have helped him in those regards and he's ready to go for this season. Bottom line, the stuff is there and he has the potential to be great. With David Price hopefully mentoring Rodriguez, the ability for him to be a solid #2 is there.