6 Mar 2010
It seems like both the Red Sox and Yankees are trying to settle on a 5th starter. I’ll let Peter handle the Yankees debate. As for the Red Sox, it comes down to Tim Wakefield or Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Those of us who saw Wakefield towards the end of the 2009 season not only are shocked that he might win the 5th spot, but also that he is even still playing baseball. Some of the most comedic, yet sad images of Wakefield last season showed a pot-bellied, middle-aged man trying to cover first base, only to have his right leg fail him. When I say fail, it looked like he was running with his leg asleep.
No matter, off-season back surgery apparently has cured his pinched nerve issue and he is making a strong showing in camp, even if he still has the pot-belly.
Matsuzaka on the other hand has been sidelined with a back strain. It seems likely that unless he can get in a game soon, he’ll start the season on the DL or in extended spring training.
It’s a shame to have Matsuzaka pitching out of the pen as his stuff can be electric, but he doesn’t have a clean health record and I’m sure the Red Sox would love to keep his innings pitched total at 160 or so this year. This is the team that routinely shuts down pitchers for 2 weeks, more to give them a rest than any health related reason.
The 5th spot in really meaningless early on in the season, so I’m not worried about this issue and the likelihood of keeping 5 starters healthy throughout the season is slim, so both Wakefield and Matsuzaka will get their fair share of starts. I like Wakefield in the rotation as his style is such a contrast to the other starters. While I can’t quantify the impact his knuckleball has on opposing teams as far as how the opposition handles the conventional starter the next day, it does make sense.
Plus, Wakefield is a far more enjoyable starter to watch as he is quick between pitches while Matsuzaka is painfully slow. A non-baseball related argument to be sure, but important to the fan.
All of this discussion bodes well for Clay Buchholz as he has apparently been penciled in the 4th spot. Buchholz strong showing in September and his upside make him a logical choice.
With a rotation of: Lester, Beckett, Lackey, Buchholz and Wakefield and improved team defense, the Red Sox should be good at preventing runs this year but it remains to be seen if they can score enough runs.