The Red Sox faltered in back to back ALDS matchup due to a highly ineffective pitching staff. Former manager John Farrell, plus the lineup he fielded each game, were just as poor; but both are in the process of being corrected. Alex Cora has taken the reigns of the Sox, and Dombrowski has been openly adamant about adding a middle of the lineup hitter.
So is it essential to target pitching, as well? Just because Boston has a surplus of starters, doesn’t mean they’re set to open 2018 at the position. Sale and Pomeranz may be locked in at 1 and 2, but Price will be labeled a question mark no matter what, and Porcello looked more like the average pitcher he is last season. With Eduardo Rodriguez unable to start 25+ games per season, the back end is shaky… which is a compliment given their post season track record.
The real issue behind Boston’s starters doesn’t lie within the numbers, it’s the timeliness of their performances. Jon Lester’s departure to Chicago marked the unofficial start to inadequate playoff pitching, as Boston now enters each playoff series wondering if the Ace of the staff has come to play. Roger Clemens in the 80’s, Pedro in the 90’s and early 2000’s, followed by Beckett, Schilling and Lester in 2004 and beyond, means Boston hasn’t had to worry about an ace leading them through October in over forty years. The Sale/Price acquisitions were supposed to alleviate any doubts and concerns we had, not add to them.
Yet even with household names Sale and Price – plus the 2016 Cy Young champ – come October, the rotation holds the sturdiness of a rickety food bridge in the mountains of an action flick. So how do you fix the problem? It’s easy.
Sign Jake Arrieta.
Yes, middle of the lineup thunder is an absolute necessity. But the Sox could conceivably go into next season with five potential staff aces: Sale nearly won a Cy Young, Price has (previously) been established, Pomeranz had himself a coming out party, and Porcello was 2016’s best pitcher. Throw Arrieta into the mix, and you’ve got losing streak stoppers taking the mound every fifth day.
Even more importantly, the thrice drafted Missouri native would bring along something with him known as “playoff pedigree.” That’s the uncanny knack some players have which gives them the superseding ability to thrive under the spotlights of October baseball… something Farrell couldn’t muster out of his starting five over the last two years.
The Cub isn’t his insanely dominant self that he was in 2015, where he deservedly brought home the Cy Young hardware, after leading baseball with a 0.4 HR/9 and three complete game shutouts. His strikeouts have steadily declined, while his earned run rate continues to creep closer to 4. With Jake also turning 32 prior to Opening Day, his value isn’t at its peak. Which sucks for the free agent, but not his pursuers.
With him, Arrieta would bring five postseason wins, a complete game shutout, and a career K/9 of 12.2, all in just nine outings. In other words, he’s done what no Sox starter has done in four years now: show up in October.
Boston’s front office has been aggressive early on this post season, with the quick decision to fire Farrell, a short search (and even delayed announcement) of Cora’s hiring, and the coaching staff is nearly complete revamped- all within 48 hours of the season ending. Do they plan on being as deliberant in player acquisitions?
I think it’s expected that Dombrowski is going to nickel and dime the pitching staff, and go hard after a bat or two. Which would mean adding depth to the rotation, perhaps by taking a flyer on Tyler Chapman, Wily Peralta, or the 43 year old R.A. Dickey. But I’m not comfortable with that, and neither Sox Nation shouldn’t be either There needs to be a proven addition made to the pitching staff, unless we as fans are satiated by a third consecutive one and done.