Before the Red Sox season started, the projected starting rotation was the most-talked about part of the team.

On Dec. 6, Boston traded prospects Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz to the Chicago White Sox for starting pitcher Chris Sale – who joined a staff that already included David Price and 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello.

Red Sox Pitching Will Determine Boston's Playoff Chances 1

On paper, this rotation looked as if it was going to be un-hittable – and besides Sale, MLB teams were hitting off the “un-hittable” rotation.

Price (5-3, 3.82 ERA) started the season by visiting Dr. James Andrews for his elbow – which put a lot of worry into the heads of Red Sox Nation. Price didn’t need surgery, but it was obvious he was not 100 percent.

It wasn’t so much what he was doing on the field that worried the fans the most, it was his off-field behavior, particularly an incident with hall-of-famer Dennis Eckersley. Many began to question whether the lefty was mentally tough enough to pitch in Boston.

After the incident with Eckersley, Price landed on the 10-day disabled list with elbow inflammation. He was just reactivated and Sox skipper John Farrell told reporters on Thursday he would be used in the bullpen for the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs in a multiple-inning role.

Fun fact: Price has won two games in the playoffs coming out of the bullpen. He is 0-8 as a starter in the playoffs.

Porcello, who dominated last season with a 22-4 record and earned his first-career Cy Young Award. This season, we have seen a completely different pitcher. He’s 9-17 – his 17 losses leads the major leagues.

The right-handed pitcher has pitched well through many of his starts. It’s the offense that always seems to not produce when he’s on the mound. Although Porcello does not always produce Cy Young-like numbers, his numbers have never been this abysmal.

Doug Fister, who wasn’t even on the team until June when he was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels, has been Boston’s third-best pitcher in the rotation. He had a one-hitter, complete-game against the Cleveland Indians, won five-consecutive starts before he lost to the Oakland Athletics and leads the team in ERA (2.91) and WHIP (0.85) over the last 30 days.

He’s been able to go deep into games, despite having troubles mainly in the first inning where his ERA is 16.20.

Then there’s been Drew Pomeranz, who has a surprising 16 wins on the season, which is identical to the number of wins as Sale.

The southpaw has been quite a pleasant surprise this season – especially coming into the season with plenty of questions surrounding him and whether he would be healthy as he was nursing an arm injury.

His ERA sits at 3.28 and with the way he’s been pitching, Pomeranz should easily be named the number three starter in the playoff rotation.

So that begs me to ask – who is the odd man out for the Red Sox when they make the postseason?

Sale is your obvious Game 1 starter, followed by Pomeranz then Fister. Since teams typically go with a four-man rotation in the postseason, that leaves Porcello and Rodriguez fighting for that fourth spot since Price will be in the bullpen.

Never did I ever think a Red Sox starting playoff rotation would include Doug Fister and not David Price and possibly having Eduardo Rodriguez be the fourth man over Rick Porcello.

A lot can happen between now and the playoffs but when it comes down to it, Porcello needs to be the fourth starter. Even though Porcello has pitched once in the playoffs and it didn’t go so well, he still has the age and experience over Rodriguez.

It’s hard to trust Porcello, yes, given the season he’s had and what he did in the ALDS in 2016 – but it’s even harder to trust Rodriguez with his history of knee injuries and lack of experience in the playoffs.

Pomeranz doesn’t have playoff experience and in fact, neither does Sale – but these are your top two pitchers in the rotation and more trust has been built with them over the course of the season. Plus, Sale is just a dominant pitcher on the mound.

The 2017 playoffs are just weeks away and the Red Sox can clinch a spot in the postseason with nine more wins and clinch the American League East Division with 14 wins.

Projected Playoff Rotation

  1. Chris Sale
  2. Drew Pomeranz
  3. Doug Fister
  4. Rick Porcello

 

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