Red Sox Pitching Staff; or Sayonara Daisuke?

As I left my last post: the Red Sox have a gluttony of quality pitching right now, and it will be interesting to me to see how they handle the staff down the stretch. After thinking about it long enough to write this post, I think the biggest question concerns Dice-K. It is an understatement to say he has not been pitching well. Given his poor performance and injury concerns, I don’t see any kind of trade. I find it highly unlikely that he would get a minor league assignment.

Here is the Sox pitching rotation as of today:

  • Beckett
  • Lester
  • Wakefield
  • Smoltz
  • Penny

And their talented bullpen:

  • Papelbon
  • Ramirez
  • Okajima
  • Bard
  • Saito
  • Delcarmen
  • Masterson

At this point I would like to see Penny get traded–not because I don’t think he can handle the 5 spot in the rotation, but because I think Buccholz has learned as much as he can in AAA. His performance the other night–particularly his first strike % and overall control, shows he is ready for the major leagues. Additionally, the Red Sox top pitching prospect not named Buchholz and Bard is having a great season for Pawtucket. Michael Bowden [16 starts, 81 innings, 3.32 ERA, 1.242 WHIP, 54 K for the Paw Sox] could likely come up and start if necessary.

But even if you do move Penny, that still leaves the question of what to do with Dice-K once he gets back from “injury.” A minor league rehab assignment should bide some time. I just can’t see sending Masterson down to AAA (and, yes, I’m assuming that the only way Dice-K pitches for this team again this season is in long relief). Masterson’s 4.84 ERA might not seem impressive, but one has to factor in two absolutely terrible performances as a starter (12 earned runs in 12.1 IP) and two out of the pen (5 ER in 2 IP, 5 ER in .1 IP). Take away those four performances, and the rest of his season is stellar: 24 games, 52.2 IP, 14 ER, for a 2.39 ERA. Yes, he has two bad games out of 26 appearances out of the pen, but remember he is the long reliever. Often his job is simply to chew innings when a starter has an off night. With Masterson in the game, more often than not, the Sox have a chance to stage a comeback in those games.

So, any Sox fans out there, any thoughts on Dice-K (I’m hoping for a reaaally long rehab assignment… you know, until 2011 long).



  1. joefromnewhampshire

    I pretty much agree about Penny being traded. I mean, Buchholz could potentially give the team three aces, and that means a lot to me. Now, claiming that Clay will be an Ace isn’t logical given that he is very young. But I really do believe that at worst, he can do what Panny does for the rest of the year. Plus, Dice-K should make it back eventually and he and Bowden give us depth.

  2. raysrenegade

    You could see either Smoltz or Penny traded, or maybe even both if they retain their stuff in the next two weeks.
    When the Red Sox signed both of them they knew their cash outlay would be minimal compared to what they might get in return for these two pitchers if they rebounded in 2009.
    Both have had their moments, and a NL contender knows they have the talent and ability to toss some gems again in the Senior Circuit.
    Trade Deadline is coming, and with some great outings, the needle just goes upward for both of them.

    Rays Renegade

  3. raysfanboy

    Wow, if Matsusaka was put in long relief it would really be LOOOOONNNNNGGGG relief. He’s got to be the slowest working pitcher in the game.

    Not a bad problem to have, lots of pitching. I think Bucholz needs to be in your rotation now. Penny needs to go. You keep Smoltz because he has bullpen experience and he could prove valuable there down the road.

  4. santosis

    The reason I suggested Penny would get traded is that I don’t think you would do that to a veteran of Smoltz’s status.

    My problem with Dice-K is his unwillingness to challenge hitters when he is ahead of the count. He turns too many 0-2 and 1-2 counts into 2-2 and 3-2 counts with absolute junk pitches. That’s the primary reason why he has 105 pitches in the 5th inning so often. Its like watching Kevin Garnett take fade away jumpers (which he does more than casual fans probably realize).

  5. raysfanboy

    Great analogy. Pitchers get the “nips” when they get ahead in the count sometimes. They want that dramatic–and easy–razor’s edge of the plate strike to punch the guy out. Basketball players find the fade away the easiest shot to take b/c the hand is further away from your face and you won’t get any contact. I coach kids, and it is a big thing to UN-coach in some of these NBA loving youngsters. I find the aggressive approach to often be the best approach.

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