“We don’t have as much depth in certain areas as we’d like,” he said. “You always try to plan for not just the 25-man roster, but you ask yourself, ‘What happens if this guy gets hurt? What if this combination of injuries occurs?’ Obviously, last year, we couldn’t withstand what we went through.” ~Red Sox G.M. Theo Epstein on WEEI
What could go wrong this year?
I think there are a lot of things that can go wrong. We don’t have as much depth in certain areas as we’d like. You always try to plan for not just the 25-man roster, but you ask yourself, “What happens if this guy gets hurt? What if this combination of injuries occurs?” Obviously last year, we couldn’t withstand what we went through. Starting pitching depth after our top five guys, we have [Tim] Wakefield, who can start for us. We have [Felix] Doubront, who may be in a position to start some games for us. And we have [Alfredo] Aceves, who may be able to start some for us.
But we don’t have a lot of young starting pitching in the upper minors ready to step in. I listed eight guys. The average big league team goes through 10 or 11 starters over the course of the season, so I don’t know where those starts are going to come from. We’re going to have to figure that part out as we go. ~Red Sox G.M. Theo Epstein on WEEI
PROJECTED RED SOX ROTATION:1: Jon Lester (LHP)
2: Clay Buchholz (RHP)
3: Josh Beckett (RHP)
4: John Lackey (RHP)
5: Daisuke Matsuzaka (RHP)
Long-man/6th SP: Tim Wakefield (RHP)
PROJECTED AAA/AA STARTING PITCHING DEPTH: (* = on 40-Man Roster)
AAA: Felix Doubront (LHP)* 37 IP in AAA 3.16 ERA and 25 IP in MLB 4.32 ERA in 2010. -Shut down with elbow soreness, MRI results clean 2/24/11. LINK
AAA: Alfredo Aceves (RHP)* Only 11 IP between AA/AAA and 12 IP in MLB in 2010.
AAA: Andrew Miller (LHP) 85.3 IP in AA 6.01 ERA, 32.7 IP in MLB 8.54 ERA in 2010.
AAA: Brandon Duckworth (RHP) 105.7 IP in AAA 3.32 ERA in 2010.
AAA: Adam Mills (RHP) 131.2 IP in AAA 5.47 ERA in 2010.
AAA: Lenny DiNardo (LHP) 47.2 IP in AAA 3.40 ERA in 2010.
AAA: Michael Bowden (RHP)*105.2 IP in AAA 3.66 ERA, 15.1 IP 4.70 ERA in MLB in 2010.
AA: Stephen Fife (RHP) 136.1 IP in AA 4.75 ERA in 2010.
AA: Stolmy Pimentel (RHP)* 128.2 IP in A+ 4.06 ERA in 2010.
AA: Brock Huntzinger (RHP)134.2 IP in A+ 4.14 ERA in 2010.
AA: Kyle Weiland (RHP)128.1 IP in AA 4.42 ERA in 2010.
AA: Alex Wilson (RHP) only 78.3 IP in AA 6.66 ERA in 2010.
XST: Junichi Tazawa (RHP)* missed 2010 season and likely to begin season on DL or in XST rehabbing from TJ surgery.
Threw graduation, trades and attrition the Red Sox upper minors are thin on highly talented young starting pitchers who are ready to contribute at the Major League level. What they have is a mixture of veteran roster filler, a few ready for MLB youngsters and a bunch of pitchers who are simply not yet ready to appear in the MLB and would created a roster crunch if they had to be added to the 40-man roster.
On the projected 25 man roster the Red Sox have 5 very solid starting pitchers in Lester, Buchholz, Beckett, Lackey, and Matsuzaka. There is also a potential 6th starter sitting in the bullpen in Wakefield. Of course given the fact that Wakefield will pitch the 2011 season at age 43/44 and has had injury problems recently, there has to be some question as to how much he will be able to contribute if called upon to start on more then a spot start basis.
In the minors I think there are 5 guys that could and would see time if needed in Boston in 2011. I don't think we will see Andrew Miller as a starting pitcher in Boston in 2011. Miller needs development time and should get it in AAA in the rotation with a mid to late season call up for the Boston bullpen if needed or if he is performing extraordinarily in AAA. That leaves Doubront, Aceves, Bowden, Duckworth, and DiNardo.
Duckworth and DiNardo are veteran roster filler who are not on the 40-man roster and would likely be called up only in an emergency basis to make a start or two and then Designated for Assignment and waived.
Doubront is the first choice if a need arises. Bowden has yet to really perform well at the MLB level and is reportedly working on a new pitch (the cutter) so perhaps that will lead to better success. Aceves could end up in the Boston pen or in AAA as a starter to begin the season, likely in AAA and is probably the second choice after Doubront, but he missed a lot of time last season. I think they try to keep Aceves in AAA as long as possible to build up innings and arm strength and get him prepared to contribute in the second half.
It all depends on health. If the starting 5 stays healthy in Boston then the team will be fine pitching wise, but if a few injuries happen, then the lack of starting pitching depth could become apparent pretty fast. One sign of the Front Office's concern about its pitching depth is the recent interest in Chad Durbin who is still fielding offers from teams.