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:
And their talented bullpen:
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).
I was only able to follow the game on the mlb gamecast, but it was a strong showing for Clay [boxscore]. Great start to the game–six first pitch strikes (and just missed getting a borderline call on the 7th batter), excellent command hitting the edge of the plate. Lived on the black in the first inning. Mostly fastballs and change-ups. Recorded first two outs on change-ups to Scutaro and Hill, and a curveball to Lind. All in all, a 15 pitch 1-2-3 inning.
He had two more first pitch strikes in the 3rd inning, and got a nice double play while down in the count 2-0 to Aaron Hill. His control faltered a bit in the fourth–he failed to get a first pitch strike on the first two batters, and then had his next three first pitches put in play. He escaped the inning giving up only one run. He came back and had a nice fourth inning, inducing two ground outs and a strike out.
He left a few on in the sixth, but had a great night overall, throwing 103 pitches, 66 for strikes. Word on the street is that he will be headed back to Rhode Island anyway, but its nice to know that he has really developed his location after his struggles last season. Whether it is for the stretch run later this season, or next season, Buchholz figures to be a strong addition to the rotation. The Red Sox will need to make some serious decisions soon, they are in the rare position of having too many starters:
A few of those names might not be too familiar to anyone outside of Beantown, but they all are potential starters for this team. I’ve got some real work to do this morning / afternoon, so I won’t be able to really think about my top five until later. Its a great question to ponder.
Buchholz. This is one of those times I really miss living in New England–I am dying to watch tonight’s game. I watched Buchholz’s no-hitter in 2007 and thought he had one of the best curveballs around. His 2008 disappointment came as a complete surprise. Its great to see how well he’s been pitching for the Paw Sox this season (99 IP, 89 K, .980 WHIP, 2.36 ERA); I hope he carries that success into tonight’s start.
When I lived in Indiana, I used to purchase the MLB.radio package and listen to games over the computer. Now married with child, I settle for watching the Gameday box scores. But all night, I’ll be wishing I could see that curveball.