A look at the rotation heading into September

As we head into the stretch, it’s nice to know that the rotation is in better shape than a month ago. Here’s a player-specific look at some of the issues.

Josh Beckett has looked like our ace most of the season, but has hit some speed bumps lately, most recently his 5 HR performance against the Yankees at home. Beckett has been uncharacteristically leaving his hammer curve up in the zone, and instead it has gotten hammered. Pitching coach John Farrell says it’s a mechanical issue and nothing physical, so there’s some relief in that. I think he’ll be fine.

Tim Wakefield is scheduled to start tomorrow, and he went 5 2/3 innings on 80 pitches in his past start for Pawtucket. Things are looking up for Wake, but that calf is still balky, so we’ll have to see how it holds up. With George Kottaras not able to be acivated yet, Victor Martinez has been eagerly awaiting the chance to catch Wakefield, and he has been warming him up with a first baseman’s mitt this week. It appears that Brad Penny will be moved to the bullpen for now; he could provide some long relief as well in September.

Daisuke Matsuzaka is leaner and stronger, says Terry Francona, and he will be able to pitch again this year. He threw three scoreless innings in a Ft. Myers rehab start, and will start for the PawSox on Sept 3 before rejoining the Sox.

Junichi Tazawa turned in a great 6-inning performance this week against the Bronx Bombers, but don’t get too excited about him – yet. Despite the 0.00 ERA, he did struggle in that outing, and the results could have easily been very different with a bad pitch or two. I was impressed with his mental toughness and being able to make his pitches in a big game. I’m excited to see him up next season and perhaps sticking in the rotation by 2011.

Paul Byrd has made a decent start at Pawtucket, and will likely be called up when the rosters expand to provide a dependable long man in the bullpen.

One advantage of having a bunch of guys who are capable of starting is that the Sox can rest Beckett and Jon Lester a bit, either pulling them earlier or perhaps moving to a 6-man rotation if the wild card race settles down a bit.


3 Responses to A look at the rotation heading into September

  1. Rich Mag says:

    Looking forward to seeing Wakefield pitch this week. Ill feel a heck of a lot better when he gets back. Penny is killing us.

  2. redsoxtalk says:

    It looks like the rotation could shake out to be Beckett-Lester-Buchholz-Wakefield-Matsuzaka/Byrd with Penny and Tazawa as depth. Not bad, if they can stay healthy. Let’s hope the Red Sox’ plan of resting these guys has paid off.

    Penny is a hard thrower with a couple of off-speed pitches. He could be a decent reliever if he can adjust to the routine and throw strikes when he comes in.

  3. redsoxtalk says:

    I forgot to talk about Clay Buchholz in this post.. I see him making some progress and toughing out his starts a bit more. I think he is ready to stick in this rotation for good. His new two-seamer is thrown harder, shows more zip and is an extreme ground ball pitch. Now only if the infield could just take advantage of that more..

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