Friar: Dombrowski already has Red Sox rotation in mind, but is it the best combination?

red_sox_eduardo_rodriguez_062216.jpg

Friar: Dombrowski already has Red Sox rotation in mind, but is it the best combination?

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:

Wright-Pomeranz

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.

Rodriguez-Wright

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.

Pomeranz-Rodriguez

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.

Best Pair

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.

Three-run HR from Sandoval (.353) leads Red Sox split squad past Rays, 7-5

Three-run HR from Sandoval (.353) leads Red Sox split squad past Rays, 7-5

Pablo Sandoval hit his fourth home run of the spring and Rusney Castillo had three hits to lead a Red Sox split squad to a 7-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday in Port Charlotte, Fla. 

Sandoval, who has won back his third base job after missing nearly all of last season following surgery on his left shoulder, connected for a three-run shot, batting right-handed, against Rays starter Ian Snell in the fifth inning. The switch-hitting Sandoval had abandoned hitting right-handed in 2015, his last full season with the Red Sox.

He's hitting .353 this spring with a 1.051 OPS and 19 RBI.

Castillo, the Cuban outfielder signed to a seven-year, $72 million deal late in 2014 but again likely headed for Triple-A Pawtucket, went 3-for-4 and is hitting .368 this spring. Catcher Blake Swihart, also probably Pawtucket-bound, had two hits and is hitting .325.


 

Another strong start for Kendrick in Red Sox split squad's 3-3 tie with Phillies

Another strong start for Kendrick in Red Sox split squad's 3-3 tie with Phillies

Kyle Kendrick strengthened his bid for a spot in the rotation by allowing two runs in six innings and striking out six and Jackie Bradley homered as a Red Sox split squad played to a 3-3 tie with the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Kendrick, 32, a non-roster invitee to spring training, allowed eight hits and a walk in his sixth start this spring. He's been the Red Sox best starter with an ERA of 2.17. 

With David Price out until May and lefty Drew Pomeranz still a question mark, Kendrick could find his way into the rotation behind Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez.

Bradley went 2-for-3 with his third homer of the spring. He's hitting .244 in spring training games. 

The Phillies pushed across the tying run in the ninth off lefty reliever Robby Scott, the first run he's allowed this spring in 10 innings. 

The Minnesota Twins host the Red Sox on Sunday at 1:05 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.