A story at MLB.com sized up Terry Francona's starting rotation at the start of the season with Beckett on top, Lester following and Dice-K after that. But then the story goes on to list Tim Wakefield, the 42 year-old knuckleballer, as the fourth starter followed by perhaps Penny or Buchholz as the fifth starter. Should Wakefield be listed at Number 4?
There is no doubt that Boston has a monster pitching staff from top to bottom and there really doesn't seem to be a losing combination here. Wakefield is a known commodity. He will get his 30 starts (if things stay as they are) and have an ERA in the 4.00 to 4.50 range. He will win at least half of his games or better. He does offer a known change of pace after three power pitchers ahead of him. The Fan would love to see some stats of what Wakefield does to batter's timing after facing him. A batting average study of teams the day after a Wakefield start would be interesting.
At the same time, you have Brad Penny and Clay Buchholz who have been brilliant all spring. Buchholz in particular had a lot of buzz in 2007 when he came up and threw a no-hitter. But last year was a disaster for him and he could not find the strike zone. That problem has seemingly been resolved if spring results can be relied upon.
Brad Penny is a former All Star who had a miserable year last year with the Dodgers. Not only did he pitch miserably, but he was called lazy by the Dodger's coaching staff. He hasn't appeared lazy with the Red Sox and has looked really good all spring.
So what should the Red Sox do? If you go with: Beckett, Lester, Dice-K, Penny and Buchholz, you have power all the way through. Stick Wakefield in there in place of one of the last two and you have a change of pace. It's an interesting conundrum that most teams would love to face.
Personally, the Fan would go with power all the way and put Wakefield in the bullpen. He's done that before and succeeded fairly well. It would seem the best way to go to have all your best arms 1-5 and just blow teams away.
It remains to be seen how it all plays out, but either way, one really good potential pitcher will be the odd man out. And don't forget you have Smoltz out there too in June. Pity the poor Red Sox for having more pitching than they have room for.