Pitching Forecaster: Sox stockpiled with starters
The Red Sox have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to starting pitching, with five proven veterans in the big-league rotation and John Smoltz and Clay Buchholz waiting in the wings. Eric Mack speculates on how it might all shake out and examines the state of all 30 rotations in his Pitching Forecaster.
Every other team in baseball, all 29 of them, has to look at the Boston Red Sox with envy. They have depth like no other in a place more important than any other: starting pitching.
You don't trade pitching -- good pitching anyway. But the Red Sox can. They might even have to.
With the mid-June return of John Smoltz , a future Hall of Famer, coupled with the Triple-A dominance of Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden , two major league ready starters, their pitching staff only figures to get stronger and deeper. And drool by the rest of baseball will continue to drip in one continuous stream all the way to the ground.
Josh Beckett and Jon Lester are too good to struggle for much longer. Daisuke Matsuzaka will build back up to be a steady every-fifth-day guy. Brad Penny is throwing in the mid-90s and proving healthy after shoulder woes. Tim Wakefield is not spectacular, but few can argue with his reliability -- a trait that is far too underrated in the pitching realm. And, their defacto No. 6 starter Justin Masterson is back in the bullpen.
What the heck are the Red Sox going to do with nine starters for five rotation spots?
Buchholz and Bowden can stay in Triple-A, but probably shouldn't. Masterson can remain in the bullpen, because he can make a very good bullpen completely great.
Once Smoltz is brought off his rehab assignment and the 15-day DL, which has to happen by June 19, according to MLB.com, they might only have a six-for-five problem.
A six-man rotation is possible, albeit a two-start pitcher killer for Fantasy owners. That would mean at best one two-start pitcher for the Red Sox on a weekly basis, but only if they play seven games without a day off or have a doubleheader on the schedule.
Assuming Beckett, Lester, Dice-K, Penny or Wakefield don't need a DL stint once Smoltz is ready, if he is ready, the prevailing thought is Penny will be on the trade market. The struggles of David Ortiz make it possible they could use their starting pitching depth in the coming weeks to solve their hole at DH. Yes, they might be done with the face of their franchise. Penny is the primary bargaining chip. What team couldn't use Penny?
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe calls Penny "one of the most valuable chips in the game." As a free-agent signee in the first year of his contract, Penny cannot be dealt before June 15 without his consent, but there is talk Penny won't stand in the way of any potential deal before then, if one comes along. It is more likely they wait until Smoltz returns after mid-June, though.
Eventually this season, the Red Sox front office says, Buchholz and Bowden will be in the major leagues. Buchholz, already the author of one major league no-hitter, certainly looks ready to arrive. He pitched a one-hit shutout gem Monday night in Triple-A to improve to 3-0 with a 1.30 ERA. At 2-2 with a 1.64 ERA and a .153 batting-average against (just one homer allowed in 44 innings), Bowden is no slouch either.
Yes, these are high times for the Red Sox. We can't wait to see how they solve these pitching "problems" that every other team in baseball would love to have.
- Dan Haren
- Jon Garland
- Doug Davis
- Max Scherzer
- Billy Buckner
Week 8 two-starter(s): Buckner. He pitches Wednesday, but he
figures to be risky option even in NL-only formats.
Starters on the DL: Brandon Webb (shoulder) and Yusmeiro Petit (shoulder). Webb is still a couple of weeks away at least. Keep him stashed.
Starters to watch in the minors: Jarrod Parker and Bryan Augenstein . Augenstein might have blown his chance to help in Fantasy this year, while Parker, 20, could position himself for a late second-half call-up. The groundball pitcher has not allowed a homer in 44 innings, but he has a .313 batting-average against after his Double-A promotion. He is 3-2 with a 1.84 ERA through nine starts in high Class A (four) and Double-A (five).
- Derek Lowe
- Jair Jurrjens
- Javier Vazquez
- Kenshin Kawakami
- Kris Medlen
Week 8 two-starter(s): Kawakami. He could prove to be a sleeper
with a solid outing at San Francisco.
Starters on the DL: Tom Glavine (shoulder, elbow) and Tim Hudson (elbow). Glavine could be just one more rehab start away from a return, so Medlen is pitching for his rotation spot each time out. He was not impressive Tuesday night.
Starters to watch in the minors: Tommy Hanson . If Glavine cannot return in the next week, Hanson (3-3, 1.48 with 82 strikeouts and a .164 batting-average against in 60 2/3 innings) might.
- Jeremy Guthrie
- Rich Hill
- Brad Bergesen
- Jason Berken
- David Hernandez is expected to be called up to start Thursday
Week 8 two-starter(s): Hill. He could prove to be a nice sleeper
in deeper leagues with a solid effort vs. the Blue Jays on Wednesday.
Starters on the DL: Koji Uehara (hamstring) and Alfredo Simon (elbow, out for the season). Uehara will be out until mid-June with chronic hamstring problems.
Starters to watch in the minors: Chris Tillman , Jake Arrieta , Brian Matusz , Troy Patton , Brandon Erbe and Hernandez. Tillman could have been an option over Berken if he didn't leave his past start with a sore groin. Patton was merely not on schedule for the Berken turn, but he could be altered to get on schedule in the next week or so. Arrieta, Matusz or Erbe are no better than September call-ups at this point.
Boston Red Sox
- Josh Beckett
- Jon Lester
- Daisuke Matsuzaka
- Brad Penny
- Tim Wakefield
Week 8 two-starter(s): Dice-K. He could prove to be a must-start
with a solid start at Minnesota on Wednesday.
Starters on the DL: John Smoltz (shoulder). He is on a rehab assignment that is due to expire June 19, barring a stoppage. Keep him stashed another couple of weeks.
Starters to watch in the minors: Clay Buchholz , Michael Bowden and Junichi Tazawa . It has been stated publicly that Buchholz and Bowden are expected to arrive in the second half, but it looks like it will be in the bullpen at this point.
- Carlos Zambrano
- Ryan Dempster
- Ted Lilly
- Sean Marshall
- Randy Wells
Week 8 two-starter(s): Zambrano. He could be a must-start with a
solid outing vs. the Pirates on Wednesday.
Starters on the DL: Rich Harden (back). He is eligible to return in Fantasy Week 9 (June 1-7), but there is no word yet whether he could accelerate his timetable that quickly. Track his news through the weekend.
Starters to watch in the minors: Jeff Samardzija and Mitch Atkins . Samardzija (1-1, 4.40 in Triple-A) could help this year, but Atkins (2-5, 8.38 in Triple-A) doesn't look like he can.
Chicago White Sox
- Mark Buehrle
- John Danks
- Gavin Floyd
- Bartolo Colon
- Clayton Richard
Week 8 two-starter(s): Colon and Floyd. Colon had a decent outing
so there will be no switching spots with
at this point. Floyd had a great start last time out
and another good one makes him an advisable two-starter.
Starters on the DL: None.
Starters to watch in the minors: Aaron Poreda and Contreras. Contreras started with 15 shutout innings in Triple-A, but he allowed five in 5 2/3 in his past start Saturday. Poreda is back in Double-A and manager Ozzie Guillen said publicly he is not ready because the lack of command of his secondary pitches.
- Aaron Harang
- Bronson Arroyo
- Johnny Cueto
- Micah Owings
Week 8 two-starter(s): Arroyo and likely Volquez. Arroyo is a
sleeper with a solid outing Wednesday vs. the Astros, while Volquez is
targeting a June 2 return at St. Louis.
Starters on the DL: Edinson Volquez (back). The Reds sent their No. 5 starter back to Triple-A and are going with a four-man rotation until Volquez is eligible to return.
Starters to watch in the minors: Homer Bailey and Daryl Thompson . Bailey stunk in his one start and will need another month of good, solid Triple-A pitching before he is considered for another look.
- Cliff Lee
- Roberto Hernandez
- Carl Pavano
- TBD, perhaps David Huff
- Zach Jackson and then perhaps Jeremy Sowers
Week 8 two-starter(s): Two TBDs. Track their call-ups in the next
couple of days. The Wednesday and Thursday starters will be two-start
options, albeit risky ones for AL-only leagues. Jackson is making the
start Wednesday, because Sowers was needed in an extended relief outing
Monday. Huff could go Thursday, or the Indians could dip into the minor
Starters on the DL: Jake Westbrook (elbow), Anthony Reyes (elbow), Aaron Laffey (side) and Scott Lewis (elbow). Westbrook, Laffey or Lewis won't be ready before mid-June, while Reyes looks like he will be out for the year.
Starters to watch in the minors: Jeanmar Gomez , Hector Rondon and Chuck Lofgren . Gomez is coming off a perfect game, Rondon is no longer working in relief, due to need, and Lofgren (3-1, 1.35 in Double-A) could be a top option for one of those TBDs above. Watch this closely. These guys are in Double-A, but they could be on call in a pinch.
- Aaron Cook
- Ubaldo Jimenez
- Jason Marquis
- Jorge De La Rosa
- Jason Hammel
Week 8 two-starter(s): Cook and Jimenez. Cook is a questionable
option, while Jimenez could be advisable with a solid start Wednesday
vs. the L.A. Dodgers.
Starters on the DL: Franklin Morales (shoulder) and Jeff Francis (shoulder, out for the season). Morales could begin a rehab assignment Sunday and might only need a couple of outings to get ready.
Starters to watch in the minors: Greg Smith , Jason Hirsh , Greg Reynolds , Jhoulys Chacin and Keith Weiser. Morales is the first option as a replacement, while these prospects are no better than second-half options.
- Justin Verlander
- Edwin Jackson
- Dontrelle Willis
- Rick Porcello
- Armando Galarraga
Week 8 two-starter(s): Porcello. The rookie has been a nice
contributor in deeper leagues and is a nice sleeper with another solid
outing Wednesday at Kansas City.
Starters on the DL: Jeremy Bonderman (shoulder). Bonderman could return in Fantasy Week 9 (June 1-7), but it is more likely the Tigers give him a couple more rehab starts to build up arm strength.
Starters to watch in the minors: Scot Drucker and Chris Lambert . Lambert has pitched a lot better than a 1-5, 6.29 ERA suggests. Regardless, ignore the Tigers' organizational depth at this point.
- Josh Johnson
- Chris Volstad
- Andrew Miller
- Sean West
- Burke Badenhop
Week 8 two-starter(s): Miller and Badenhop. Miller is a nice
sleeper in deeper formats amid his development. Badenhop, working on a
pitch count out of the bullpen, is a risky option best left for the
deepest of NL-only leagues.
Starters on the DL: Anibal Sanchez (shoulder) and Rick VandenHurk (elbow). Sanchez and VandenHurk are working on rehab assignments that could make them candidates to return by mid-June. Sanchez might be closer than that even.
Starters to watch in the minors: Ryan Tucker , Brett Sinkbeil , Graham Taylor and Aaron Thompson . They have gone to the well on West, but these others haven't pitched well enough to warrant a look at this point.
- Roy Oswalt
- Wandy Rodriguez
- Mike Hampton
- Felipe Paulino
- Brian Moehler
Week 8 two-starter(s): Perhaps Oswalt and Paulino (or Moehler or
Backe). The Astros rotation this weekend is up in the air due to a
potential rotation return.
Starters on the DL: Brandon Backe (side). Backe can return this weekend, most likely in Moehler's spot.
Starters to watch in the minors: Bud Norris . Norris is starring in Triple-A and looks like he could be an impact second-half call-up for an Astros team that sorely needs some talent in the back end of their rotation. Take an early flier on him in deeper formats right now.
Kansas City Royals
- Zack Greinke
- Gil Meche
- Kyle Davies
- Brian Bannister
Week 8 two-starter(s): Davies. He could be a sleeper if he
pitches well Wednesday vs. the Tigers.
Starters on the DL: None.
Starters to watch in the minors: Luke Hochevar and Dan Cortes . Hochevar is expected to make a Triple-A start soon and be ready for the end of Fantasy Week 9 (June 1-7), when the Royals next need a No. 5 starter. Cortes (2-4, 3.86 in Double-A) won't be called on before Sidney Ponson or Horacio Ramirez get another look(s).
Los Angeles Angels
- John Lackey
- Ervin Santana
- Joe Saunders
- Jered Weaver
- Matt Palmer
Week 8 two-starter(s): Saunders. He is a must-start after his
solid outing Tuesday vs. the White Sox.
Starters on the DL: Kelvim Escobar (shoulder) and Dustin Moseley (elbow). Escobar could be a factor in the No. 5 starter's spot or the bullpen by mid-June. Keep him stashed. Moseley is not close to starting a rehab assignment at this point.
Starters to watch in the minors: Jordan Walden , Sean O'Sullivan and Trevor Reckling . They don't figure to need to dip into these guys, since the Angels made it through all of their injuries earlier this season.
Los Angeles Dodgers
- Chad Billingsley
- Randy Wolf
- Clayton Kershaw
- Eric Stults
- Eric Milton
Week 8 two-starter(s): Kershaw and Wolf. They figure to be at
least advisable options with solid outings Wednesday at Colorado and
Thursday at the Cubs, respectively.
Starters on the DL: Hiroki Kuroda (shoulder) and Jason Schmidt (shoulder). Kuroda might be an option in Fantasy Week 9 (June 1-7), but track his progress on his rehab assignment through the weekend. Schmidt had a setback and had to stop his rehab stint, so he is no better than a late June returnee, if he ever returns.
Starters to watch in the minors: James McDonald and Josh Lindblom . McDonald is back making regular starts, but Kuroda and Schmidt will be fill-ins before the Dodgers look to try out their prospects. McDonald and Lindblom are more likely to help in relief in the second half than the rotation.
- Yovani Gallardo
- Jeff Suppan
- Manny Parra
- Braden Looper
- Dave Bush
Week 8 two-starter(s): Suppan and Parra. Suppan is a questionable
option after a poor start Tuesday night, while Parra is a sleeper with a
solid outing vs. the Cardinals on Wednesday.
Starters on the DL: None.
Starters to watch in the minors: Jeremy Jeffress . Jeffress was demoted to high Class A after his slow start in Double-A, and he stunk there, too. He is not close.
- Scott Baker
- Francisco Liriano
- Kevin Slowey
- Nick Blackburn
- Anthony Swarzak
Week 8 two-starter(s): Slowey. He could be an advisable option
with a solid start vs. Boston on Wednesday.
Starters on the DL: Glen Perkins (elbow) and Boof Bonser (shoulder, out for the season). Perkins was a candidate to be ready in Fantasy Week 9 (June 1-7), but it is more likely he gets time on a rehab assignment after Swarzak's solid debut Saturday.
Starters to watch in the minors: Kevin Mulvey . He will have to wait behind Swarzak and Perkins, which could mean he is no better than a September call-up. He might be considered for relief help, though.
New York Mets
- Johan Santana
- Mike Pelfrey
- John Maine
- Livan Hernandez
- Tim Redding
Week 8 two-starter(s): Hernandez and Santana. Hernandez is a real
sleeper after his complete game Tuesday vs. the Nationals, while Santana
is a must-start.
Starters on the DL: Oliver Perez (knee). He began a rehab assignment Tuesday night in Triple-A and could be a couple of starts away from replacing Redding in the No. 5 starter's spot.
Starters to watch in the minors: Jonathon Niese , Bradley Holt and Tobi Stoner . Perez is first to get a look, but Niese (0-3, 8.06) will remain in Triple-A as the potential second-half contributor.
New York Yankees
- CC Sabathia
- A.J. Burnett
- Andy Pettitte
- Joba Chamberlain
- Phil Hughes
Week 8 two-starter(s): Chamberlain and Burnett. They are likely
advisable options in most formats on potential alone.
Starters on the DL: None. Chien-Ming Wang (hip) came off the DL, but he is stuck in long relief right now amid Hughes' hot streak.
Starters to watch in the minors: Kei Igawa and Ian Kennedy (shoulder, might be out for the season). Unlike the Red Sox, they Yankees are not as deep. Their replacement starters Wang and Aceves are working in long relief right now, though.
- Dallas Braden
- Trevor Cahill
- Brett Anderson
- Josh Outman
- Edgar Gonzalez
Week 8 two-starter(s): Cahill. He will be at best a questionable
option best left for the deepest of AL-only leagues even if he pitches
well Wednesday vs. Seattle.
Starters on the DL: Justin Duchscherer (elbow). He hasn't started a rehab assignment yet and will need as much as a month once that starts.
Starters to watch in the minors: Dana Eveland , Gio Gonzalez , Vin Mazzaro and James Simmons . The A's will need a No. 6 starter Tuesday of next week, which is necessitated by a doubleheader Friday and no ensuing offdays. Gonzalez is the likely fill-in, but Mazzaro has outpitched him to date. Watch this news in the coming days, because that spot could be a two-starter if they pitch well and warrant sticking in the rotation thereafter.
- Cole Hamels
- Brett Myers
- Joe Blanton
- Jamie Moyer
- J.A. Happ
Week 8 two-starter(s): Blanton and Myers. Blanton is a nice
sleeper now, while Myers could prove to be an advisable option if he
pitches well Wednesday vs. the Marlins.
Starters on the DL: None.
Starters to watch in the minors: Kyle Kendrick , Carlos Carrasco , Joe Savery , Antonio Bastardo and Kyle Drabek . Happ will be getting at least a month after being tabbed to replace Chan Ho Park , who was shuffled back to long relief. The Phillies know what they have with Kendrick, but the others are real prospects.
- Paul Maholm
- Zach Duke
- Ian Snell
- Ross Ohlendorf
- Jeff Karstens
Week 8 two-starter(s): Snell and Duke. Snell is more of a risky
option after struggling Tuesday at the Cubs, while Duke could be a
better option depending on how he comes out of his Wednesday start at
Starters on the DL: Phil Dumatrait (shoulder). He isn't ready for a rehab assignment and would likely get a lengthy one once he's ready to start it.
Starters to watch in the minors: Brad Lincoln , Bryan Morris and Daniel McCutchen . Tom Gorzelanny is already up, working in long relief, but the Pirates are saying they still expect him to (hope he will) be in the rotation before the end of the year.
San Diego Padres
- Jake Peavy
- Chris Young
- Kevin Correia
- Josh Geer
- Chad Gaudin
Week 8 two-starter(s): Peavy. The Padres should be expected to
keep their ace on every fifth day until they find a taker on a team he
would approve a deal to.
Starters on the DL: Shawn Hill (elbow) and Cha Seung Baek (elbow). Hill and Baek figure to be out a long time at this point, perhaps for the rest of the season.
Starters to watch in the minors: Walter Silva , Cesar Carrillo , Nick Schmidt , Wade LeBlanc , Will Inman and perhaps Mark Prior . None of these guys will be considered before Silva, Hill or even Baek returns, so consider the Padres as having no prospects to watch -- untill they deal Peavy for some.
San Francisco Giants
- Tim Lincecum
- Randy Johnson
- Matt Cain
- Barry Zito
- Jonathan Sanchez
Week 8 two-starter(s): Lincecum. He is a must-start in all
leagues in all weeks.
Starters on the DL: Noah Lowry (shoulder, out for the season).
Starters to watch in the minors: Madison Bumgarner , Tim Alderson and Kevin Pucetas . Bumgarner and Alderson are candidates to start the Futures Game in St. Louis. We could see them up in August and blowing people away in Fantasy immediately. Stash them wherever possible. They have been great after a quick Double-A promotion.
- Felix Hernandez
- Erik Bedard
- Jarrod Washburn
- Chris Jakubauskas
- Jason Vargas
Week 8 two-starter(s): Washburn. He pitched six shutout innings
Tuesday vs. Oakland and is a decent option in AL-only leagues.
Starters on the DL: Ryan Rowland-Smith (biceps), Carlos Silva (shoulder) and Ryan Feierabend (elbow, out for the season). Rowland-Smith is an option to return in Fantasy Week 9 (June 1-7), but track his news through the weekend before considering him viable. Silva will need more time and frankly isn't worth stashing.
Starters to watch in the minors: None. Their organization is not real ripe with pitching prospects now that Phillippe Aumont has been moved to relief.
St. Louis Cardinals
- Chris Carpenter
- Adam Wainwright
- Kyle Lohse
- Todd Wellemeyer
- Joel Pineiro
Week 8 two-starter(s): Wainwright and Wellemeyer. Wainwright is
likely a must-start, while Wellemeyer is a sleeper for deeper leagues if
he pitches well Wednesday at Milwaukee.
Starters on the DL: Jaime Garcia (elbow, out for the season).
Starters to watch in the minors: Mitchell Boggs , P.J. Walters and Clayton Mortensen . As long as Carpenter stays healthy and Wellemeyer doesn't pitch himself back to the bullpen, we don't see these guys helping Fantasy owners at this point. Boggs is likely the spot guy, but he is not all that intriguing long term.
Tampa Bay Rays
- James Shields
- Matt Garza
- David Price
- Andy Sonnanstine
- Jeff Niemann
Week 8 two-starter(s): Sonnanstine. He is a sleeper with a solid
outing Wednesday at Cleveland.
Starters on the DL: Scott Kazmir (quadriceps). He figures to get some time to work out the kinks on a rehab assignment. Don't consider him viable in Fantasy Week 9 (June 1-7).
Starters to watch in the minors: Wade Davis . With Price in the majors, Davis becomes the object of prospect attention here. He was outpitching Price by a wide margin in Triple-A at 5-1 with a 2.66 ERA and a .199 batting-average against. Niemann still is pitching for his rotation spot. Sonnanstine might be too.
- Kevin Millwood
- Brandon McCarthy
- Matt Harrison
- Scott Feldman
- Derek Holland
Week 8 two-starter(s): Holland or Feldman. Holland would be on
turn, but they could choose to skip him to keep their top starters on
regular rest. Feldman would be the one that could move up for two
starts. Both are best trusted only in AL Fantasy formats.
Starters on the DL: Vicente Padilla (shoulder) and Eric Hurley (shoulder, out for the season). Padilla likely will get a rehab start before he returns to the rotation at this point. Don't consider him in Fantasy Week 9 (June 1-7).
Starters to watch in the minors: Neftali Feliz , Michael Main , Tommy Hunter , Thomas Diamond and Kasey Kiker . Holland is the No. 6 starter right now, but one of these guys could pitch their way into the Rangers' plans after the All-Star break. They still have work to do.
Toronto Blue Jays
- Roy Halladay
- Scott Richmond
- Ricky Romero
- Casey Janssen
- Brian Tallet
Week 8 two-starter(s): Romero. He's a high-risk option based on
how poorly he pitched Tuesday night in Baltimore.
Starters on the DL: Jesse Litsch (forearm), Dustin McGowan (shoulder) and Shaun Marcum (elbow). These guys won't be ready until July at this point, even later (if at all) in the cases or the latter two.
Starters to watch in the minors: David Purcey , Brad Mills , Brett Cecil , Robert Ray and Marc Rzepczynski . We have seen the first four with mixed results, while Rzepczynski is back in Double-A. They have depth, but none of it is all that intriguing right now.
- John Lannan
- Shairon Martis
- Jordan Zimmermann
- Craig Stammen
- Ross Detwiler
Week 8 two-starter(s): Stammen. The oldest but least experienced
(in majors) member of the Nationals staff is a risky option best left
for the deepest of NL-only leagues at this point.
Starters on the DL: Scott Olsen (shoulder) and Matt Chico (elbow). Olsen could prove viable later in June, while Chico is no better than a second-half returnee at this point.
Starters to watch in the minors: Josh Smoker and Colton Willems. The wait is on for the drafting, signing and call-up of Stephen Strasburg from San Diego State. He is not far from being drafted (June 9). The guess here is Strasburg is treated with kid gloves or merely given a token call-up.
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