First season without David Ortiz since 2002: sigh. This is a low blow to Red Sox fans across the globe. The man spent 14 years here and put up Hall of Fame numbers while bringing 3 World Series titles to the city of Boston. But as they say, the show must go on. Time to look forward to this new and exciting Red Sox team.
It was a busy Winter Meetings for President of Baseball Ops, Dave Dombrowski, making moves that seemingly came out of nowhere to bolster both the rotation and the bullpen.
As we inch closer and closer to Truck Day, let's begin to predict what the Red Sox will do in 2017. So, let's start with this new and improved rotation, shall we?
1. Chris Sale
(FTW, USA Today)
Speaking of moves that seemingly came out of nowhere. Here's Chris Sale for you. Sale had been heavily linked to the Sox last trade deadline, but Dave Dombrowski wasn't willing to pull the trigger on the obscene asking price at the time. But looking back on it, could you blame him? Let's look at the big piece DD gave up in the trade, Yoan Moncada. We hadn't seen him yet last season, and Pablo Sandoval's weight was certainly an issue we hadn't seen resolved yet. But in Moncada's struggles in September, and looking at the change in Panda's size, trading the number one prospect in all of baseball didn't seem like that much of a risk anymore.
As for Sale? He's nothing short of effective. He finished 6th in Cy Young voting last year, posting a 17-10 record with a 3.34 ERA on a terrible White Sox team. Now while there were incidents in the locker room that scared a lot of Red Sox fans when the rumors started to heat up, I think he just hated losing and didn't like seeing management care more about money than W's. That will change here for sure. Boston is a winning environment, and a guy like Sale, with his wipeout stuff, is going to thrive here, in my opinion. Don't expect much struggles out of him, because he feasts on the AL East.
Prediction: 20-6, 3.20 ERA, 250+ Ks in 200+ IP
2. Rick Porcello
Ah, Pretty Ricky. Coming off a year in which he won the Cy Young. A year in which he certainly earned his paycheck. With the acquisition of Chris Sale, I see Porcello sticking in the 2 slot in the rotation. And honestly, it's for the best. Porcello was great last year, but he's had one good year and one bad year so far. So why not expect him to finish somewhere in the middle? The stuff is definitely there, it's just all about if he can keep his pitches down and in the ballpark. Because we saw in the ALDS last year how bad he can be when he's up in the zone. I expect a bit of a drop off from Porcello, but not by a ton. He'll be a more than solid number 2 for sure.
Prediction: 17-8, 3.50 ERA, WHIP around 1 and 200+ innings again.
3. David Price
I know, I know, win a playoff game first and then talk. This guy pisses me off so much sometimes, especially after the year he had. Dave Dombrowski went all in in the 2016 offseason, opening up his wallet and giving Price a 7-year deal worth $217 million. How did Price respond? By going 17-9 (pretty good), but with an ERA of 3.99. That's just unacceptable. I understand he had to get used to pitching at Fenway regularly, so I expected that the home runs and ERA would be higher (not that high). But he also led the league in hits allowed, with 227. That's just ridiculous. His velocity and control went down and it seemed as though he just didn't care at times.
I expect his 2017 will be better, given the trend of a few notable pitchers like Rick Porcello and Josh Beckett.
Prediction: 17-8 with a 3.40 ERA, 230 Ks in 200+ IP.
4. Drew Pomeranz
Talk about a guy with a short leash already. Drew Pomeranz is coming off a season in which he pitched his way onto the NL All-Star team with the Padres, only to flake out when he was dealt to Boston for top pitching prospect, Anderson Espinoza. Pomeranz was primarily a reliever for a few years, so fatigue could definitely have been a major issue for him last year. But the Padres did fail to tell the Sox he was dealing with some sort of injury at the time of the trade, and the Sox could've sent him back, but obviously they didn't do that. They're showing tremendous confidence in Pomz to turn it around and be a very effective number 4 or 5 for them next season. And with the pressure being off a bit, I expect him to do pretty well in that type of role. He did show some flashes of greatness last year.
Prediction: 13-10, 4.40 ERA, 180+ Ks in 175ish IP.
5. Eduardo Rodriguez
E-Rod is by no means a lock for this spot. Considering the Red Sox are a very lefty-heavy team, and All-Star Steven Wright potentially being back after that shoulder injury caused him to miss most of the second half. Rodriguez has all the tools to be a great MLB pitcher, it's just all about his mindset and grit. We saw last year that he gets really scared at times when the slightest thing goes wrong. Last year he had a cramp in his hammy in a start against Baltimore and had to leave. That doesn't bug me, it's the fact that he wound up missing his next start as a result. Not only that, he flaked out the night before and basically hung Henry Owens out to dry the next day. Up and down career for Eddy for sure, and it's getting to be make or break time for the left hander.
Prediction: 11-9 with a 4.60 ERA, 180+ Ks in 160 IP
6. Steven Wright
To tell you the truth, I'm only including Wright so I don't have to hear everyone complain about how I "forgot about Steven Wright." Listen, Wright was lightning in a bottle last season for the Sox. He even pitched his way onto the AL All-Star team last year. He's a very good pitcher, but I don't think I really trust him much in any capacity other than as a long reliever/spot starter kind of role. He was huge in the first half last year, but as we saw, he changes based on the weather. And in Massachusetts, where the weather loves to play tricks on you, it's very risky. That's what sucks the most about Spring Training being in Florida, the weather is usually nicer down there.
Wright and E-Rod compete for the fifth rotation spot, but I see that being E-Rod taking that spot.
Prediction: 7-5, 3.80 ERA with 100+ Ks in 80ish IP in a primarily long relief role.
What're your thoughts on my predictions? Agree? Disagree? Do you think Henry Owens will finally be a decent piece of the puzzle? Let me know what you think! Stay tuned for lineup projections in the near future!