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Rollins: Red Sox Need to Stop Running Away From No. 3 Starter

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When John Farrell was asked Tuesday who would take the ball for Game 3 and Game 4 of the ALDS, his response was what you may expect.

“Recent performances are going to have something to do with the roles as we now play with a greater sense of urgency,” Farrell said. “You do like the fact of a veteran presence, guys that have been in a postseason, guys who seemingly will pitch with more emotional control, or control the running game, or executing a pitch in a key moment, that has maybe a tendency to shine through a little more.:

What does that mean? We don’t exactly have that answer as it sounds like a few arms on this Red Sox staff.

What we do know however is Chris Sale will oppose Justin Verlander in the series opener Thursday and Drew Pomeranz will toe the rubber against Dallas Kuechel Friday. This leaves the third game, which could possibly be the biggest, penned as TBD for the moment.

There is no sugar coating the fact the Red Sox have had some serious issues since April bridging the gap in the rotation to Sale and this season’s unlikely hero Pomeranz.

At the outset of Spring Training, it appeared the Red Sox top two starters would be Rick Porcello and Sale, and rightfully so. Porcello was coming off a campaign in which he racked up 22 wins en route to the AL Cy Young, and Sale was Sale. Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright seemed to be a formidable enough group to round out the backend. There was even talk the Red Sox had “too many” arms in their rotation. When David Price came back, he was expected to bolster the group even more, which brought that question to light.

However, things took a turn downhill at the end of April when the Red Sox lost Wright to a season-ending knee injury. Albiet, he had an 8.25 ERA at the time, but it was a minor blow for Boston.

Rodriquez, who had been the Red Sox’ third best starter (4-2, 3.54), was summoned to the DL June 2 with a knee injury of his own, which further threw the Red Sox into a loop. Porcello still couldn’t figure it out and finished the month with a 4-10 record and 5.04 ERA to date.

In the meantime, Boston returned it’s $217-million lefty in Price at the end of May. After a rough June, he began to figure it out in August – lowering his ERA from 4.61 to 3.82. But, elbow issues landed him on the DL and overwork became a cause for concern.

Doug Fister, who the Red Sox signed in mid June, was arguably the Red Sox’ best starter from July 31 to early Aug. 27 (3-2, 2.62), had a miserable September which ruined many’s hope he could be “that guy” behind Sale and Pomeranz.

Up until his last start on Sept. 28, which happened to be against the Astros which is not ideal, it seemed Rodriquez had finally secured the role as the third best starter on this team. But a 1.2-inning, five-run performance spelled the end of that chatter.

Now we’re in October and the Red Sox are either going to roll the dice on a third starter or give it to Sale on three days rest. Regardless of where the series is swaying at the time, how can one feel comfortable about the Red Sox making this move?

Say Boston is in fact down 2-0, heading home. OK, Sale wins you Game 3. Does Pomeranz then take the mound on three days rest, Sale on one day? See you’re back in the same predicament.

Running away from your third starter may win you one, but is not a recipe for success down the road. There is no Clayton Kershaw on this team.

Whether it it’s Fister, E-Rod or Rick, sound like you have a sense of confidence John.

 

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