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How Red Sox Pitching Rotation is Shaping Up

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Let’s start a review of the Red Sox starting staff with the top three starters.

So far so good for Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz.

Coming into the spring, Buchholz was the big question – looking to rebound from his back woes of last season. Buchholz is looking good. But let’s keep watching as he extends himself deeper into games.

And remember, it was the end of season – not early on – where Lester and Beckett failed. In particular, Beckett, with his poor in-season conditioning, wore down in the stretch. I don’t think new manager Bobby Valentine will let Beckett balloon out of shape during the season. Boston needs more than 13 wins out of Beckett (his 2011 total) to be a playoff team.

Back-end of Rotation

You got to like what Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves have done in Spring Training to this point.

Bard is feeling good as a starter – albeit having only stretched out to three innings. And Aceves is a marvel on the mound.

The other contenders have not done anything to distinguish themselves.

  • Aaron Cook had a good outing today – but it was his first of the spring.
  • Felix Doubront and Vicente Padilla have been up and down.
  • Andrew Miller is battling a tender elbow.

Look for the #5 starter decision to be connected to the bullpen.

Alex Speier examined the Red Sox bullpen and sees only two spots set in stone – closer Andrew Bailey and set-up man Mark Melancon. And Tim Britton agrees.

Aceves may be just too valuable in front of Bailey and Melancon to move out of the bullpen.

Doubront and Miller are both out of options – and if they don’t make the big league club, the Red Sox will most likely lose them.

If one of them consistently puts together some quality outings in the last weeks of Spring Training, look for Doubront or Miller to start the season in the rotation – but with a short leash, having Aceves, Cook and loser in the Doubront/Miller battle ready to step in if needed.

Lastly, don’t discount Boston looking elsewhere for a starter.

The Red Sox are exploring the starter marketplace. Jim Bowden tweets they made an offer to the Nationals for John Lannan.

Figure Boston needs eight or more starters to get through the season. The Sox have depth – the question is whether it will turn out to be quality depth.

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