Boston’s Starting Pitching Options

Boston’s late-season slide isn’t so shocking when you consider that Red Sox pitchers have allowed 6.5 runs per game this month. With just six regular season games remaining, Boston’s lead has diminished to 2.5 games over the Angels and Rays. Baseball Prospectus still gives the Red Sox a 91.5% chance of advancing, but there’s zero doubt that Red Sox fans and front office members are unsettled by the team’s play.

The Red Sox made multiple inquiries about Chris Capuano, though it doesn’t appear that they’ll reach a deal with the Mets. Capuano would be ineligible for Boston’s postseason roster, but GM Theo Epstein and his front office are focused on the immediate future: three games in Yankee Stadium against the AL East Champions followed by three games at Camden Yards against the Orioles.

Jon Lester is set to pitch tomorrow, with 45-year-old knuckleballer Tim Wakefield scheduled to take the ball Saturday and John Lackey and his 6.49 ERA set to wrap the series up Sunday. Clearly, there’s room for improvement. Ideally, the Red Sox would have been able to turn to Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka, who are injured, or Rich Harden, whose medicals scared Boston away, or a more productive version of Lackey. But those options aren’t there, so the Red Sox are looking at alternatives.

If they move on from Capuano to other potentially available starters, they aren’t likely to encounter many pleasing options. Pitchers like Bruce Chen and Rodrigo Lopez aren’t clear upgrades and if the Red Sox considered Kevin Millwood a viable starter in the AL East, they would have held onto him earlier in the season.

They could ask Padres GM and longtime Red Sox executive Jed Hoyer about Aaron Harang, who has put together a nice season in San Diego (3.82 ERA, 6.6 K/9, 3.2 BB/9). No Yankee regular other than Russell Martin has had much exposure to Harang, and five of the team’s regulars (Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher, Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner, Jorge Posada) have never faced him in a regular season game, so the Red Sox would have the element of surprise on their side. But even if they were comfortable bringing a fly ball pitcher into Yankee Stadium, the third most homer-friendly ballpark in baseball, they’d have to convince the Padres to part with Harang. The sides have a mutual option for 2012 and Harang projects as a Type B free agent in the offseason, so he still has value to San Diego. 

There’s Javier Vazquez, the Marlins right-hander who has been pitching at the top of his game for the past half-season (1.93 ERA, 8.3 K/9, 1.4 BB/9 in the last three months). In theory, the Red Sox could bring him in to start in place of Lackey on three days’ rest Sunday. It would be a significant upgrade, but Vazquez has a no-trade clause and appears ready to announce his retirement, so it seems unlikely that he’d agree to uproot himself. Plus, it's not as if Vazquez has had much success in Yankee Stadium.

In other words, the odds may be on Boston’s side, but the trade market isn’t. It appears that their chances of reaching the postseason depend entirely on the players they currently have.


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32 Comments on "Boston’s Starting Pitching Options"


yankswin28
3 years 11 months ago

Just sign Pedro.

johnsilver
3 years 11 months ago

I would rather see Alex Wilson have a try than Harrang or vazquez, much less take a chance Harrang would opt for his end of the mutual option for 2012.

East Coast Bias
3 years 11 months ago

For real man. Hasn’t Javy had enough failures in the AL East already?

a36Martz
3 years 11 months ago

Igawa is going to be a free agent next season !  lol

RMR
3 years 11 months ago

I would happily give them back Bronson Arroyo

0bsessions
3 years 11 months ago

I would happily take him at this point.

0bsessions
3 years 11 months ago

Something I noticed this morning:

BAbip for Boston starters for the month of September:”

Wakefield: .250
Lester: .344
Bedard: .345
Becket: .375
Lackey: .417
Miller: .464

An interesting anomaly. It’s hard to assume all of that is luck, but that is pretty ridiculous that only one pitcher on the staff has had a BAbip below league average this month with most of them being extraordinarily high. The one conclusion it DOES lead me to, however, is I have to wonder if the lineup has more to do with this than people are assuming. Luck isn’t the only thing indicated by BAbip, it can also be due to fielding.

Either way, though, this team looks absolutely gassed right now. *Sigh*

East Coast Bias
3 years 11 months ago

Did you also check AGon’s babip while you were at it?

0bsessions
3 years 11 months ago

Last I checked, it’s been high all season (Which makes sense considering his swing, though anyone expecting him to hit close to .340 again next year is nuts).

That said, one player having a BAbip that’s way off is one thing, but their entire staff with one exception? That is incredibly strange and really hard to characterize as straight forward bad luck.

notsureifsrs
3 years 11 months ago

always best to look at BABIP and LD% together, but especially when the sample is as small as one month:

wakefield 9.6
lester 18.5
bedard 21.4
beckett 15.6
lackey 26.4
miller 25.8

so relative to LD%, lester and especially beckett have very high BABIPs. everyone else seems to have earned the old fashioned way. or the john lackey way, we should start to call it

0bsessions
3 years 11 months ago

Didn’t even think to check that. Clears up that logic a bit.

notsureifsrs
3 years 11 months ago

yup javier vasquez definitely wants to come back to yankee stadium

mondaymorninggm
3 years 11 months ago

what about giving a sp-ot start to one of your bullpen guys. like bard. just 5 or 6 innings. isnt anyone at triple aaa even decent??

zeles
3 years 11 months ago

bard can’t last more than a third of an inning…what’s to make u think he can last 5?

Shu13
3 years 11 months ago

 Being an Angels fan I love to see Lackey’s body language and melt down reactions on teh field after he slammed the Angels and us fans after he left….soooo glad the Angels stood their ground and didn’t overpay for him like Bawston did…

notsureifsrs
3 years 11 months ago

instead of a one game playoff, if the angels and sox somehow tie for the wildcard i say we have john lackey and vernon wells fight to the death

sallen22
3 years 11 months ago

Precisely, except let’s give them weapons.  Lackey gets a baseball to throw at Vernon and Vernon gets a bat to swing at Lackey.  Here’s how it would play out: Lackey would throw the ball at Vernon but it would miss him by at least 5 feet and leave Lackey unarmed.  Vernon would charge after Lackey with his bat in hand, chase him around the ball field and swing and miss for about half an hour until they both got tired and passed out.  

The tie would be ruled a tie.  Thus we’d need a tiebreaker for the tiebreaker.  I suggest an old man contest between Tim Wakefield and Bobby Abreu.  It would pretty much play out the same way, Wakefield would throw at Abreu and it would hit him, but since he doesn’t throw hard enough Abreu would be uninjured, then Abreu would just stand there with the bat on his shoulder like he has the whole season and pray he gets a free pass.

So then we’d have a tiebreaker for the tiebreaker for the tiebreaker, which would be a 2×200 relay featuring Ellsbury and Crawford vs Bourjos and Trout, in which case the Angels would win.

mrjedsnyder
3 years 11 months ago

pretty accurate descriptions of these players if you ask me…

0bsessions
3 years 11 months ago

While amusing, it’s a bit off. Lackey’s walk rate, while not stellar, is a manageable 3.1 (By comparison, Jon Lester’s a 3.4). On the other hand, he hits people like it’s going out of style (19 hit batsmen this year) while Wakefield’s only hit 8 batters.

Meanwhile, Wells is having a better than average season for strikeouts, sitting at 82 (Career average is 90). Comparatively, Kevin Youkilis, a hitter known for his plate discipline, has 100 strikeouts in only 14 more plate appearances.

Fun ruined. You’re welcome, folks.

Mario Saavedra
3 years 11 months ago

He hits people because he isn’t trying to hit them. I he where trying to do so, he would probably only throw strikes.

MaineSox
3 years 11 months ago

So assuming this were to take place, theoretically, who would be considered the winners? It would have to be the team whose player died in this case right?

jgmaynard
3 years 11 months ago

They really should have stretched out Aceves back into a starter…

Matt Galvin
3 years 11 months ago

Felix D.? K. Weiland? Andre Miller?

zeles
3 years 11 months ago

I don’t want to see Miller or Weiland again…at least not for another year.

johnsilver
3 years 11 months ago

Agree on Weiand. For some reason never had much faith in him and Doubront has been relieving of late, plus injured often this season..meaning 2011 IMO has been a wash for the guy.

If they let a youngster get a start, I am for Wilson, but his callup to AAA was really delayed with the signing of that useless Millwood earlier this season.

hawkny1
3 years 11 months ago

Forget about Lackey and Wakefield because putting them on the mound is as good as forfeiting every game they pitch. 
Go with Aceves, Lester, and a combination of Doubront, Aceves again, Tazawa, Albers and Wheeler for 2 innings each. 
Let Papelbon, Bard know they may be expected to pitch multiple innings in multiple games during these last few games. 
If all else fails, pitch Reddick, Pedroia and Saltalmacchia….so that the team at least dies with some sense of youthful dignity…Amen.

ps. apply the “peter principle” to Francona by promoting him to the front office as Theo’s assistant.  Send the pitching coach along as Tito’s assistant assistant…
or, outright them all to Salem, VA… with regrets….and so longs..Amen, again.

johnsilver
3 years 11 months ago

Problem letting Aceves start, is that he has been the only dependable reliever to come in before the 9th inning and has shown can do it often.

Now.. Maybe let Atchisson start and try to go 4-5.. IMO he can do a better job right now than Lackey.

Then Lackey has been nothing short of a speilzeug esel this entire season.

slider32
3 years 11 months ago

Let’s face it the great Theo missed the boat this year! He failed to see the weakness in pitching and did not stock his minor leagues with good options. The move of Youk to third was a bad one for him, and Crawford was a bust.  Letting Martinez and Beltre was also a poor choice on his part

MaineSox
3 years 11 months ago

Theo knew it was an issue and said as much before the season even started (Febuary I think) but there weren’t many good options available, and there wasn’t really any place to put more options anyway; they already had a full rotation, two starters in the bullpen, and three more starting options in the minors, plus they picked up two more starters over the course of the season (Millwood and Bedard).  You would normally believe that a team could make it through a season with 12 options for starting pitchers, the problem came when two of their top 4 starters suffered season ending injuries, and their backups haven’t performed well at all.

captainjeter
3 years 11 months ago

What is   this  really about ? THe Yanks got t the divison. So, is  this just the Sox   trying to play spoilers , so that the Yanks  don’t have  home  field throughout the playoffs?
They  already won the  season  series. And any pitcher  they get  can not be on  the playoff roster.
Theo , never knew you  to be so desperate just to stick it to the Yankees.

MaineSox
3 years 11 months ago

Pretty sure they are just trying to hang on to the Wild Card and couldn’t care less about the Yankees at this point.

Fangaffes
3 years 11 months ago

Just sign Mike Capuano.  He’d be as good as anyone they currently have.  Don’t trade any more prospects for rentals.  Especially for one game.