How Did The 2016 Red Sox Starters Fare In 2015?

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With the news that the Boston Red Sox have acquired the services of David Price, it is time to take inventory of the what the team has in their rotation. To do this, we’ll be taking a look back at the 2015 season to see how the starters fared.

Clay Buchholz was the opening day starter and got off to a solid start. However, it didn’t take long for fans to start complaining about him, as he showed a lack of awareness early in the season. After a rocky second start, many wondered which Clay was going to show up this season, and he answered that question in his third start. In late April, Buchholz went back to his old changeup and that may have been a reason for a successful first month. Unfortunately, the right-hander ended the month on a sour note, but was this a sign of things to come or just a run of bad luck?

An old problem reared its ugly head in May. Buchholz was having trouble executing with men on base. Ian York looked to see if he was indeed pitching differently in these situations, or if it was once again more bad luck.

Buchholz would go on to have a successful May and June. However, in his second start in July, Clay was removed from the game with elbow tightness. It was announced that his season was over, and it cast a dark cloud over an already disappointing season. 2015 ended in disappointment for the organization, much like 2014 did, but in a no-brainer decision, Dombrowski decided to pick up the veteran’s $13 million option for the 2016 season.

Rick Porcello started his Red Sox career with a loss, but it was a solid start. However, through the first two months of the season, it was clear that Porcello had a problem with consistency. That inconsistency caused fans and writers to question the wisdom of giving him a $82.5m extension through 2019. Around the halfway mark of the season, questions started to arise about Porcello and his ability to be a front-end starter. Sifting through the data, we found that the quality of the righty’s pitches was the same as it had been in his previous seasons, but that he was having issues locating his pitches. In late July, the results were still not there for the veteran. It became clear that he was throwing his fastballs with far less effectiveness than he used to. After a DL stint in August, Porcello came back and performed very well. The right-hander showed that he can still be a dominant pitcher, and that should give Red Sox fans something to look forward to for the 2016 season.

Left-hander Wade Miley put up a reasonably successful season for a back of the rotation starter during his first season in the American League. He was the most consistent starter all year and fans looked forward to men getting on first because of his excellent pickoff move.

Joe Kelly was acquired in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals and started the season as the fifth starter in Boston. After a poor start for the rotation, the Red Sox hired Carl Willis as their pitching coach and he quickly developed a good relationship with Kelly. A rocky first season in Boston’s rotation resulted in calls for Kelly to be sent to the bullpen. Damian Dydyn showed why that would not necessarily be the best plan for the hard-throwing righty. Kelly showed some promise late in the season as he began throwing his fastballs with less velocity to improve his location. The success that Kelly had at the back end of the season appeared to be not only from his improved location but also his pitch selection.

Knuckleballer Steven Wright was called up in May to make a spot start for the big league club for his third career start in three years.

Eduardo Rodriguez was also called up in late May for a spot start. However, the lefty did so well in his major league debut that he ended up staying in Boston for the rest of the season. After a rocky start in the middle of June due to pitch tipping, Rodriguez would get back on track with a solid outing against the Kansas City Royals.

The injury to Clay Buchholz also caused the Red Sox to call up Brian Johnson to make his Major League debut.

Henry Owens was the third left-handed pitching prospect to get the call for the Red Sox in 2015. When Porcello went to the DL, Owens made his big league debut and pitched well enough to stay in the rotation for the remainder of the season. The thing that makes Owens a successful pitcher is undoubtedly his changeup, which is truly a thing of beauty.

Dave Dombrowski and John Farrell will be busy sorting through their starting options with the number of experienced starters currently on staff. It should be a very busy Spring Training as they decide on the makeup of the staff.

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