Starting Rotation '21

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Just want to start a thread for more specific rotation discussion. Lot of shit talking here on Pivetta I hope can go away. IMO he's a very solid "no. 3" (whatever that means). Overall I'm a fan of the rotation with Rodriguez, Eovaldi as a near dominant 1,2 (assuming health), Pivetta as the 3. I'll take Perez as a 5th starter too.
Richards.... not sure. I do think he needs more starts before any decisions are made, but there's some options out there to bring a new starter in- or ways even to configure a 4 man rotation with a bullpen game every 5th time.
Discussion about a deal for Scherzer (who I thought they should have broke the bank for back in '14) but depends what the $ is for the cap along with who DC would want in return.
Sale comes up and can pitch 3 inning stints with Whitlock behind him (or vice versa)... or some other version.
Houk just takes over the spot (innings limits?) as a regular starter or some version of bullpen games to keep the arms fresh.
But Pivetta looked great and I think Bloom found a gem there.
 

chawson

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Whatever their warts, Sox pitchers have been really good so far at inducing weak contact. They've have allowed the fewest barrels in the American League (23, six fewer than second-ranked Angels in that department). That's pretty impressive considering our expectations.

Unless you're Burnes, Glasnow or deGrom, getting that weak contact can come at a cost. Richards and Pivetta both have extremely elevated walk rates compared with their career norms. It reminds me of the makeover that we gave Brandon Workman a few years ago, just pounding batters with high-spin secondaries at the edge of the zone, resulting in a lot of walks and low BABIP and HR rates. Pivetta has re-found his velocity and seems to be rewriting the book on him, leaning away from his signature curveball in favor of a really good slider, but I imagine he'll bring the hook back at some point. Injury is always a factor with Richards, but for now I buy his reasoning that the cold weather has been a factor in his struggles with release point and velocity. He's pitched in some cold-ass New England nights, and the only game he's pitched that started at 55 degrees was his best.

Pérez has been spectacular by his standards. It's only been three games, but he currently has the 12th-lowest hard-hit rate among starters (85.8 mph, behind Yarbrough, Miley, Keuchel, Lopez, Civale, E. Rodriguez, Matz, Greinke, Walker, Eovaldi, Hendricks). He's also got the 4th lowest hard-hit rate allowed for fly balls and line drives (89.1 mph, behind Bassitt, Matz and Yarbrough and tied with Corbin Burnes). He's not going to get Ks, but he's pitched better than a typical #5 starter.

Speculating on a Scherzer deadline deal isn't especially clever, and it'll be an easy headline for every beat writer in the country this summer if the Nats continue to slide. Max can basically choose where he goes, and I imagine he'd be looking for a particular set of circumstances at this point in his career. For some reason I think our team's philosophies are a good match for him, and pairing him with Sale reminds me of Pedro/Schilling. As with Eovaldi, it'd be easier to sign him once he's already here. He's a fun dude who handles media well and it's not hard to imagine him getting royal treatment in Boston, and I bet he's got 2-3 more years of durable, above average production. Looking around the league, I see thin competition for a deadline deal unless the Nats are willing to eat his whole salary. The Yankees are staying under the cap, and the Dodgers are at their limit too. The Nats won’t trade him to NL East rivals. Maybe Preller swoops in, but I think the Jays would be our main competitors there.
 

BornToRun

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Everyone needs to stop speculating about Scherzer unless they want to see rosterbating at levels none of us are prepared to handle.
 

Danny_Darwin

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Everyone needs to stop speculating about Scherzer unless they want to see rosterbating at levels none of us are prepared to handle.
Yeah, the Nats have a history of slow starts and - someone correct me if I’m wrong on this - but Rizzo does not have a history of mid season selloffs. I wouldn’t hold my breath on Scherzer.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Everyone needs to stop speculating about Scherzer unless they want to see rosterbating at levels none of us are prepared to handle.
Agreed. His full cap hit is $28.7M. So a trade for him would involve taking on anywhere from $10-$15M of that hit (depending on when the deal is done). Lowering that by getting the Nats to send cash would probably involve sending better prospects. That seems like a non-starter to me for a team in the Red Sox' position. That's a trade Dombrowski makes in 2017 or 2018, not a trade Bloom makes in 2021.

And of course this is all assuming that the Nats are looking to trade him. They're within a game of the division lead right now and it's not like they don't have a history of turning it on in the second half or anything.
 

chawson

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I get it, Scherzer’s videogamey to talk about and I’ll put a pin in it until July. My main points are that a) the Sox will need pitching if they’re contenders (and pitching next year if they’re not), and b) I hope Bloom and Henry take advantage of a rare market where the Yankees and Dodgers are financial constrained, especially when we seem likely to be able get under the cap again in 2023.
 
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Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Don't want the "Are the Red Sox Good?" thread to become a catch-all mega thread... maybe Mods can move discussion of Richards start into here?

Obviously so many what if's... and a one game start despite how great he was, is hard to get too excited about. But I can't help it. That was some great pitching- getting corners up and in and outside and away, batters to chase, etc...... keeping the bullpen fresh! Everything.
Get something even close to that on a regular basis with Eddy and (despite his last start) Eovaldi and Pivetta (especially his last start!) and this team is truly very good with a top tier rotation. Need to see, for me, two more times for everyone through the rotation to start to feel like I can be confident in their stat lines.
 

BaseballJones

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Lots of pitchers have ability and on occasion their stuff plays and they look great. But the reason most of them aren't actually great is that they can't replicate it game-in and game-out. I suspect Richards is that kind of pitcher. Any given day he can dominate, but most of the time, he won't, and more often than we'd like, he'll really struggle - either with command or with getting whacked around out there.
 

scottyno

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The best part of the 2021 rotation is that they're already good and it's pretty likely 3/5ths of the 2022 rotation aren't even in the current rotation yet with Sale Houck and Whitlock
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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The Pivetta trade was an absolute masterpiece by Bloom. Found a hidden gem (and Seibold) for a couple of used tires.
He had a terrible game only two starts ago.... I've been pretty optimistic about him as a solid mid rotation innings eater with some long stretches of highs and lows. I'm starting to think he could be better.
 

Cesar Crespo

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He had a terrible game only two starts ago.... I've been pretty optimistic about him as a solid mid rotation innings eater with some long stretches of highs and lows. I'm starting to think he could be better.
He'll need to walk considerably less batters unless he continues to hold teams to 1 or 2 hits a game.
 

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He'll need to walk considerably less batters unless he continues to hold teams to 1 or 2 hits a game.
Fewer.

Yes, that's his issue. He's walking 6 per 9 so far this season. For his career, he's at 3.5, so hopefully his numbers start coming down. Otherwise, it's going to be nearly impossible to sustain this success.
 

joe dokes

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Lots of pitchers have ability and on occasion their stuff plays and they look great. But the reason most of them aren't actually great is that they can't replicate it game-in and game-out. I suspect Richards is that kind of pitcher. Any given day he can dominate, but most of the time, he won't, and more often than we'd like, he'll really struggle - either with command or with getting whacked around out there.
But that's OK as long as every starter isn't doing it.
In a crude (math-wise, not vulgar) way that's sort of how I envision the makeup of a rotation. The best guys are at their best [/made up number] 75% of the time, and still do pretty well when not at their best, and rarely get blasted. The back-end guys are at their best half as often, are just good enough to keep the team in the game a bit more often than that, and get blasted the rest of the time. A team needs 3 of 5 to be at least "keep us in the game."
Go through a rotation several times getting "keep us in the game" or better starts, and suddenly the team is 5 or 6 wins better than you might have thought. (of course, on the flip side, if the top guys suck . . .)
 

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Saw this note on Sale in the AP write-up for last nights game:

Boston left-hander Chris Sale, who underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2020, threw off a mound. Chaim Bloom, the team's chief baseball officer, said Sale’s rehabilitation at the team’s facility in Florida is going well but the Red Sox aren’t about to set a target date for the pitcher's return.
“Hopefully, I think we’re getting closer to where we can start mapping out a timetable. I don’t have one, but he is progressing,” Bloom said. “It was pretty light work, but the next step is obviously to get into regular mound work and mound work with some intensity, and then we can start thinking about facing hitters.
Baby steps...
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Saw this note on Sale in the AP write-up for last nights game:



Baby steps...
The normal timeline from this point is usually 2-3 months before the pitcher sees ML action, so I'm still hopeful we see him towards the end of July as at least a 2,3 inning "opener" or to follow a regular starter like Perez
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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A Sale/Whitlock day every 5th day with each throwing 3 innings would be very nice.
It would.... but there's not one starter at this point that has unquestionably performed poorly enough to merit a demotion to the pen, while the pen itself is needing some help. Just adding Sale and keeping him on a schedule apart from Whitlock may possibly get better results across the board.
 

BaseballJones

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Eovaldi so far...

First 3 starts: 17.1 ip, 12 h, 4 r, 4 er, 4 bb, 14 k, 2.08 era, 0.92 whip, 7.3 k/9
Last 4 starts: 21.2 ip, 28 h, 16 r, 16 er, 4 bb, 23 k, 6.65 era, 1.48 whip, 9.6 k/9

This is who he is. At times, he's dominant. At times, he gets shelled. He's good enough to be a pretty useful starter, but not good enough to be a #1.
 

BaseballJones

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Interesting that Eovaldi had a much higher k/9 and slightly more walks while he's getting shelled... Does he get strikeout happy and start throwing too many hittable strikes?
Probably just SSS noise. But overall it reflects who he has always been. Talented, but his results on the whole haven't matched his talent level for some reason.
 

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Probably just SSS noise. But overall it reflects who he has always been. Talented, but his results on the whole haven't matched his talent level for some reason.
Or people overestimate his talent level and he’s actually pitching to it. It’s easy to get intoxicated by his heat, but I’ve long thought that he and Joe Kelly throw the most hittable 100mph I’ve ever seen.
 

shaggydog2000

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Interesting that Eovaldi had a much higher k/9 and slightly fewer walks while he's getting shelled... Does he get strikeout happy and start throwing too many hittable strikes?
The percentage of batters struck out is a better number to look at for that, since more guys on base in a badly pitched game will give you more chances to strike people out. He struck out 21.2% in the first 3 and 23.2% since then, so I think the difference is just noise and seeing more batters.
 

sean1562

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Garret Richards does seem to be turning it around. 16.2 IPs his first 4 starts with 13 BBs, then 19 IPs in his last 3 starts with only 2 walks, going 7 innings in two of them. Also dropped his ERA to lower than Eovaldi's. If we get the pitcher from the last three games moving forward, I'd say he might be worth the option next season.

I am starting to think that ERod is a goner after this season and Richards/Pivetta are the plan to replace him. Rotation next season of Sale/Eovaldi/Pivetta/Richards/Perez with Whitlock and Houck on standby.
 
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Red(s)HawksFan

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Garret Richards does seem to be turning it around. 16.2 IPs his first 4 starts with 13 BBs, then 13 IPs in his last 3 starts with only 2 walks, going 7 innings in two of them. Also dropped his ERA to lower than Eovaldi's. If we get the pitcher from the last three games moving forward, I'd say he might be worth the option next season.

I am starting to think that ERod is a goner after this season and Richards/Pivetta are the plan to replace him. Rotation next season of Sale/Eovaldi/Pivetta/Richards/Perez with Whitlock and Houck on standby.
I like what I'm seeing from Richards, but I really hope he's not the guy they choose to keep if it comes to him or ERod. Richards is 33 years old. ERod is 28. I'd rather see them commit to Rodriguez for his age 29-33 seasons than Richards for his age 34 season, even if it is more expensive.
 

sean1562

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I like what I'm seeing from Richards, but I really hope he's not the guy they choose to keep if it comes to him or ERod. Richards is 33 years old. ERod is 28. I'd rather see them commit to Rodriguez for his age 29-33 seasons than Richards for his age 34 season, even if it is more expensive.
Was about to write in the Xander thread but this is probably a better place. With Xander’s opt out after 2022 and the rotation throwing pretty well without Sale, I don’t see it making sense to re-sign ERod to a large contract. I think it is more likely they replace him with one of Houck/Whitlock and use his money on a possible Xander extension
 

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Was about to write in the Xander thread but this is probably a better place. With Xander’s opt out after 2022 and the rotation throwing pretty well without Sale, I don’t see it making sense to re-sign ERod to a large contract. I think it is more likely they replace him with one of Houck/Whitlock and use his money on a possible Xander extension
&/or a Devers extension. ERod could very well be the pitching jewel of this off-season's FA pitching crop. And as much as I like him, I don't think they should, or will, allocate the kind of money to him that it will probably take.
 

Cesar Crespo

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&/or a Devers extension. ERod could very well be the pitching jewel of this off-season's FA pitching crop. And as much as I like him, I don't think they should, or will, allocate the kind of money to him that it will probably take.
If the team is still humming along around the deadline and all of a sudden have a surplus of starting pitching.... would you look to flip him?
 

Cesar Crespo

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There is no such thing as starting pitching surplus.


And if there was, would you "flip" one of your best starters before the playoffs?
Yeah, I knew there would be a few posts saying "no such thing."

And no. But what if he isn't one of our best starters and we can trade him for a position of need (not prospects)?

I'm guessing most people still wouldn't but I think it would at least be something to consider if and when that time comes. Chances are it's a moot point. I think the sox would also get some picks for EdRod if they don't trade him which would factor into the equation, although I'm not entirely sure how last season plays into all that.
 

chawson

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Is ERod a better pitcher than Lester was when he hit free agency? I had originally thought no, but there’s a good case that he is.

Age 26-28 seasons:
ER: 3.83 FIP, 86 FIP-, 24.8 K%, 8.2 BB% (236.1 IP)
JL: 3.69 FIP, 91 FIP-, 22.6 K%, 8.9 BB% (605 IP)

Eddie’s lost 2020 makes this comparison a little wonky, Rodriguez has been a slightly better pitcher than Lester over the same age. In fact, if you compare the age 26-28 seasons of all MLB starting pitchers since 2010, Rodriguez is the 41st lowest relative to his peers by FIP-, which normalizes league and offensive environment. Lester is 58th.

That’s a little quick and dirty and not the only way to evaluate it. It also doesn’t take into account that Lester got better the next two years before hitting free agency and signing for 6/$155M before his age-31 season. But that might also bolster the case to extend Eddie, who hits free agency at 29, two seasons earlier than Lester did. Lester amassed a terrific 22.5 fWAR over his next six seasons before predictably fizzling at the tail end of his Cubs tenure.

Of course, Lester’s durability was off the charts, while it’s a bit more of a question for ERod (although none have been arm injuries, IIRC). But given our difficulties finding top-shelf starters over the years, there’s a bird-in-the-hand principle at play here. Right now, I’d think Eddie is probably worth extending at something like the contract Lester got.
 

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Pivetta was put on the COVID IL today with vaccination side effects (yay for getting vaxxed). He's scheduled to start Friday, which might be in jeopardy. Even if he's recovered from the side effects by Friday, I assume he's on the IL because he's unable to perform his between starts work so he probably won't be ready to pitch. With Houck and Seabold both on the shelf for Worcester, we might be in for an opener and/or bullpen game. Time to see how Whitlock looks starting a game?
 

Minneapolis Millers

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Is ERod a better pitcher than Lester was when he hit free agency? I had originally thought no, but there’s a good case that he is.

Age 26-28 seasons:
ER: 3.83 FIP, 86 FIP-, 24.8 K%, 8.2 BB% (236.1 IP)
JL: 3.69 FIP, 91 FIP-, 22.6 K%, 8.9 BB% (605 IP)

Eddie’s lost 2020 makes this comparison a little wonky, Rodriguez has been a slightly better pitcher than Lester over the same age. In fact, if you compare the age 26-28 seasons of all MLB starting pitchers since 2010, Rodriguez is the 41st lowest relative to his peers by FIP-, which normalizes league and offensive environment. Lester is 58th.

That’s a little quick and dirty and not the only way to evaluate it. It also doesn’t take into account that Lester got better the next two years before hitting free agency and signing for 6/$155M before his age-31 season. But that might also bolster the case to extend Eddie, who hits free agency at 29, two seasons earlier than Lester did. Lester amassed a terrific 22.5 fWAR over his next six seasons before predictably fizzling at the tail end of his Cubs tenure.

Of course, Lester’s durability was off the charts, while it’s a bit more of a question for ERod (although none have been arm injuries, IIRC). But given our difficulties finding top-shelf starters over the years, there’s a bird-in-the-hand principle at play here. Right now, I’d think Eddie is probably worth extending at something like the contract Lester got.
Lester had those extra 2 good years, as you note. He had a history of pitching more and more per start. He had a dominant playoff run on his resume. And the 3 year comp you use based on age includes Lester’s second worst season, an outlier that undersells his consistency, which was a far greater selling point for him than it will be for E-Rod.

I can see supply/demand getting Rodriguez a Corbin-like deal on the free market, if he can put up a high quality 30+ starts, but I don’t see the Sox giving him Lester money in an extension.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Would anyone believe that Richards, Pivetta and Perez all have an ERA lower than 4 and is lower than both Eovaldi and Rodriguez currently.
 

jose melendez

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The whole rotation has stunned me. Last year was the worst Sox rotation I'd ever seen, and maybe the worst rotation I'd ever seen period. Not only bad, but with no young guys with a ton of upside.

Richards had been good and has some how found what he used to have. I still don't understand how Pivetta is good given the lack of change in his peripherals after never having been good, and Perez is what he is. I'm fucking excited to watch Richards and Pivetta pitch--that makes no objective sense.
 

Danny_Darwin

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Pivetta was put on the COVID IL today with vaccination side effects (yay for getting vaxxed). He's scheduled to start Friday, which might be in jeopardy. Even if he's recovered from the side effects by Friday, I assume he's on the IL because he's unable to perform his between starts work so he probably won't be ready to pitch. With Houck and Seabold both on the shelf for Worcester, we might be in for an opener and/or bullpen game. Time to see how Whitlock looks starting a game?
This worked out fine, but the situation generally seems like a reason for some concern. The rotation is doing well right now, but with Houck and Seabold (and Mata) out, what happens if someone’s injured? Andriese or Whitlock as opener on a regular basis? The Return of Ryan Weber? Sign someone off the street?
 

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This worked out fine, but the situation generally seems like a reason for some concern. The rotation is doing well right now, but with Houck and Seabold (and Mata) out, what happens if someone’s injured? Andriese or Whitlock as opener on a regular basis? The Return of Ryan Weber? Sign someone off the street?
Houck and Seabold are hopefully a short term thing. The Herald reported yesterday that they're both feeling better but not yet throwing.

I imagine if it's a short term concern, an opener/bullpen game is more likely. If it's a longer term injury to one of the starters, and Houck or Seabold isn't ready, then yeah, it might be Ryan Weber. He's the guy in the Worcester rotation right now that they know best.

I'm sort of intrigued by Daniel Gossett. He missed 2019 (and 2020 obviously) with Tommy John, and he's 28 so clearly not a prospect any more, but he seems like an under the radar Bloom signing that might be effective enough for a few starts until the league gets a book on him. And if they need to DFA him to get him back off the roster, he's probably not a heartbreaking loss.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Who, at this point in the season, would have imagined that the team ranking in ERA would be:

1. Perez--3.09
2. Richards- 3.75
3. Pivetta- 3.77
4. Eovaldi- 4.01
5. Rodriguez- I don't want to talk about it.

Realizing of course, that it's not a predictive stat and that WHIP is more likely to show better performance going forward.

1. Eovaldi- 1.17
2. Pivetta- 1.22
3. Perez- 1.23
4. Richards- 1.48

Richards and Pivetta definitely walks too many and it feels like it's going to eventually kick them both in the ERA at some point. Meanwhile, Eovaldi's is likely to get better, as he's pitching much better than his ERA suggests. But Perez is shockingly good here too. This shit seems to be the real deal (at least in SSS).
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Who, at this point in the season, would have imagined that the team ranking in ERA would be:

1. Perez--3.09
2. Richards- 3.75
3. Pivetta- 3.77
4. Eovaldi- 4.01
5. Rodriguez- I don't want to talk about it.

Realizing of course, that it's not a predictive stat and that WHIP is more likely to show better performance going forward.

1. Eovaldi- 1.17
2. Pivetta- 1.22
3. Perez- 1.23
4. Richards- 1.48

Richards and Pivetta definitely walks too many and it feels like it's going to eventually kick them both in the ERA at some point. Meanwhile, Eovaldi's is likely to get better, as he's pitching much better than his ERA suggests. But Perez is shockingly good here too. This shit seems to be the real deal (at least in SSS).
This is no big secret, and obvious to everyone... but I'm clearly brilliant.
Joking (not) aside, this was all pretty obvious about Pivetta and Richards. I'm still hopeful they can land somewhere between their early season success and their recent struggles.
 

joe dokes

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This is no big secret, and obvious to everyone... but I'm clearly brilliant.
Joking (not) aside, this was all pretty obvious about Pivetta and Richards. I'm still hopeful they can land somewhere between their early season success and their recent struggles.
To the extent there was a consensus round these parts, it seemed to coalesce around the idea that this offense and roughly league average pitching (which would be a monumental improvement over 2020) would keep them in contention for something for most of the season. I dont how the pitching will be going forward, but that formula seems to have been about right.
 

bosockboy

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If the pitching continues as recent the bullpen will collapse. They are going to need 4-5 good innings out of Sale every 5th day and likely another starter.
 

strek1

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I am starting to think that ERod is a goner after this season and Richards/Pivetta are the plan to replace him. Rotation next season of Sale/Eovaldi/Pivetta/Richards/Perez with Whitlock and Houck on standby.
I'm inclined to think they might give him some more rope because of the bizarre medical situation last year. But his trends are alarming.
 

Cesar Crespo

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I'm inclined to think they might give him some more rope because of the bizarre medical situation last year. But his trends are alarming.
That would require signing him to a new contract. That would be 4+ years of rope. Although if he keeps it up, maybe not.