With just over five weeks to play in the 2013 MLB regular season, the Boston Red Sox are on course to secure the team’s first playoff berth since 2009. It’s been an incredible run in what was supposed to be a transition year, but the “pleasant surprise” label has worn off and fans now expect this team to compete.
But can they do it without Clay Buchholz?
Their No. 1 starter, who has been out of action since June 9, was having a career year before he got hurt. He had a 9-0 record along with a 1.71 ERA over his 12 starts, looking like the best pitcher in the American League, if not all of baseball.
While Buchholz is reportedly on track to return in early September, according to MLB.com’s Ian Browne, given all the setbacks the right-hander has had, the Sox cannot take that as a sure thing. They need to start thinking about alignments of their four-man playoff rotation, and they need to realize that Buchholz may not be a part of that.
Ryan Dempster will almost surely be the odd man out; not only has he been the Sox’s worst starter this season, but he also has had an outstanding run as a reliever, something the Sox need now and certainly will once the playoffs start.
Given all that, let’s take a look at five potential playoff rotations without Clay Buchholz: