With Clay Buchholz finally gone -- although somehow there were still people who complained about him leaving, many of whom wanted him traded for a bag of balls not so long ago -- the Red Sox find themselves with six starting pitchers on the major-league roster.
Chris Sale, Rick Porcello and David Price fill the first three slots in the rotation, leaving Steven Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez and Drew Pomeranz fighting for the final two spots.
While there’s still plenty of time for each to separate himself from the others, Dave Dombrowski already has two starters in mind. He told ESPN's Buster Olney in his most recent podcast that Pomeranz and Wright are penciled in.
That being said, there may be a better pairing. Let's look at each potential combination at 4 and 5:
These two were All-Stars in 2016. So, in some ways, it seems like a no-brainer for Dombrowski and John Farrell.
Wright offers a different feel from everyone else on the staff with his knuckleball, and is more than just an innings-eater. After his midseason acquisition Pomeranz showed he has something to offer. Plus, Dave Dombrowski sent the organization’s top pitching prospect, Anderson Espinoza, to San Diego for him, so he has more room for error that he should.
By leaving E-Rod out, that gives him a chance to gain more confidence at Triple-A. And it can serve as a wake-up call, too.
Twelve months ago, Rodriguez was slated to be the Red Sox' No. 2 arm in the starting rotation. While injuries and maturity issues created issues throughout the year, he seemed to rise above it all that towards the seasons’ end.
Pomeranz has shown he can be a strong arm in relief and could work well with the newly energized bullpen.
This would give the staff four lefty starters. That’s great for lefty-dominant lineups (though if you face one like the Toronto lineups of recent years, you could be in big trouble). Additionally, you’ll have two younger left-handed arms learning from two of the best left-handed starting pitchers this century.
Wright’s also the most flexible pitcher of the three. He needs time to build his stamina back up, but just by nature knuckleballers can make adjustments like that on the fly quicker.
With all due respect to Dombrowski, it's Wright and Rodriguez.
Pomeranz can serve well in the bullpen. And as a starter, Rodriguez has an unbelievable chance to learn from three very different aces ahead of him.
Plus, if E-Rod can’t pitch in Boston with those three ahead of him, then the Sox will know he’s never going to be successful here. So this could serve as a safe and easy measuring stick for Dombrowski.