In 2012, the Boston Red Sox starting rotation combined to win a total of 46 games. It was awful. The team knows it, the fans know it and the players know it. Things need to get better.
Admittedly, the deal to the Dodgers that sent away Josh Beckett may have been the catalyst for change that this ball club needs. Only time will tell.
This winter, general manager Ben Cherington and company have strategically signed players to both fill holes in the roster as well as help to restore order in the clubhouse. This installment of the Red Sox will appear nothing like the team fans have seen take the field in 2011 or 2012.
Sure, there are still fan favorites: Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and even the young, likable Will Middlebrooks. But, there have been a slew of changes that hope to restore this team as if ownership sent the entity that is the Red Sox to Rick Dale of Rick’s Restorations of History Channel fame to be brought back to life.
With that, the hope exists that this pitching staff can put together better numbers than last year's.
As mentioned before, the starters (players with 10 or more starts on the season) posted a record of 46-67 with a combined ERA of 5.66 and a 1.485 WHIP.
Thank you cards for those impressive stats can be addressed to: Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett, Felix Doubront, Aaron Cook, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Daniel Bard respectively.
This season under a new skipper and new team attitude, there will be changes.
The team’s official webpage lists the starting five pitchers as: Lester, Buchholz, Doubront, John Lackey and Ryan Dempster.
In order to project just how these players will do this season, several factors were taken into consideration. Career ERA, WHIP, winning percentage, K/9, games played/started and innings totals were compared to how well the individual has performed both at Fenway Park historically as well as their career numbers against Red Sox opponents during the 2013 season.
This is what fans can expect from their starting five in 2013.
Jon Lester looks to return to form in 2013
9-14, 4.82 ERA, 33 games, 205.1 innings, 166 strikeouts, 1.383 WHIP
15-8, 3.81 ERA, 29 games, 189 innings, 176 strikeouts, 1.289 WHIP
After posting the worst season of his professional career in terms of wins, ERA, WHIP and strikeouts, Jon Lester will look to have a bounce back season under the new management of his old pitching coach John Farrell.
While his win total will increase, he will not make the leap back to being the preeminent lefty in the American League, at least not this season. He will, however, make the All-Star team.
Fans will notice that Lester’s strikeout totals will start to increase back to where they once were, though not quite to the point of dominance he experienced in 2009 and 2010 whereby he racked up 225 K’s per season.
Clay Buchholz has a lot to prove still in the big leagues
11-8, 4.56 ERA, 29 games, 189.1 innings, 129 strikeouts, 1.326 WHIP
12-9, 3.59 ERA, 30 starts, 171.2 innings, 127 strikeouts, 1.382 WHIP
Clay Buchholz missed a few starts in 2012 due to injury. After a slow start to the season, he really settled down to become one of the more consistent pitchers on the Red Sox staff.
That said, he still owned a 4.56 ERA.
Historically, he has never started 30 games in Boston. This year will be the year in which he finally reaches that milestone.
As far as his actual projected stats are concerned, Buchholz has never faced Colorado, Houston, Philadelphia or San Diego and has only pitched one inning against San Francisco, which leaves a margin of error allotted for this slide.
Will Felix Doubront have a breakout season?
11-10, 4.86 ERA, 29 games, 161 innings, 167 strikeouts, 1.447 WHIP
11-10, 5.05 ERA, 28 games, 168.2 innings, 162 strikeouts, 1.634 WHIP
Felix Doubront performed admirably in his first full season as a starter for the Red Sox in 2012. In fact, he was truly one of the only bright spots on the team.
This season will prove to be a very interesting and trying one for Doubront. AL East opponents will be familiar with him and he’ll likely be facing Oakland and Texas at least once this season. Both present problems for him.
In just one season, Doubront has earned the right to be the number three starter on this roster, it will be fun to see how he reacts.
Lackey will have his first fully healthy season with Boston
13-10, 4.71 ERA, 31 games, 196.2 innings, 154 strikouts, 1.407 WHIP
Say what you will about John Lackey, but consider this: 2013 marks the first season he will be healthy pitching in Boston.
He will be the fourth starter heading into the season, but don’t think of him as a typical number four. Lackey will produce this season. He will prove to Red Sox Nation that he is in fact the horse that ownership projected him to be.
Lackey will get near 200 innings this season and help to preserve the bullpen throughout the season. Maybe he won’t become a fan favorite, but there won’t be as many angry fans when he takes the mound.
Ryan Dempster, new kid on the block.
12-8, 3.38 ERA, 28 games, 173 innings, 153 strikeouts, 1.197 WHIP
12-13, 4.19 ERA, 33 games, 200.1 innings, 182 strikeouts, 1.339 WHIP
Ryan Dempster may be the new kid on the block in Boston, but this isn’t his first rodeo.
The 35-year-old veteran has proven himself to be an innings-eater and a hard-throwing force on the mound. Despite the fact that he has only pitched on an AL team 12 times, historically he’s matched up well against Red Sox opponents.
His ERA will take a slight bump, as most NL-to-AL pitchers seemingly do, but he will provide starts and double-digit wins for this ballclub, something the Red Sox would love to have out of their number five starter.