Thursday, March 6, 2008

Red Sox Pitching Progress

You've heard it a million times now - pitching wins championships. The point being that solid pitching is the foundation a team needs to start from. So, how does the pitching situation look for the Red Sox so far? Very promising!

Bad news - Schilling is out for a significant period of time. A healthy Schilling eats up innings, provides a solid veteran presence, can handle pressure, and is a proven post-season star. He will be missed, but that is nearly all the bad news!


It was very confusing last year why Dice-K looked so good earlier in games, and earlier in the season. For a while, hitters were incredibly off balance, than later they were not. Well, according to pitching coach John Farrell, they discovered Dice-K was tipping his change-up. Not a good thing. The change-up is a fairly easy pitch to hit - IF you know it is coming. The change-up is a stealth pitch. To the batter, the pitcher looks like he is throwing a fast ball. However, due to a different way of gripping the ball, the pitch comes in roughly 10 miles per hour slower. It will either confuse the batter long enough to force him to take the pitch, or get him swinging too early. Anyway (you know all that already), if the batter knows it is coming, watch out! So, they've worked with Dice-K on perfecting the change-up and early indications are that the adjustments are working! This can make a huge difference!

Bartolo Colon looks like a steal so far. Throwing very well, mechanics are solid, and arm strength is great! If he keeps this up, don't be surprised he works his way into the #3 spot in the rotation! But, coming off of injuries the past two years, my concern is whether the elbow will last an entire season, or get sore again?

Tim Wakefield seems to be over his back issues and throwing well. Beckett is in better shape than last year and looks poised to dominate again! John Lester looked good in his last outing, and got some important post season experience last year.

As of today, my starting 5 for the Sox:
1) Josh Beckett (obviously)
2) Daisuke Matsuzaka (look for at least as good of a year as last year)
3) Bartolo Colon (presuming the elbow stays strong - may start in AAA for the first game or two)
4) Tim Wakefield (an effective knuckler keeps batters uncomfortable)
5) John Lester (nice to have a left starter)

Julian Tavarez - long relief - spot starter
Karl Snyder - long relief - spot starter
Mike Timlin - middle relief - occasional setup man - spot closer
Manny Delcarmen - middle relief
Javier Lopez - need a lefty in the 'pen
Hideki Okajima - setup man - occasional closer
Jonathan Papelbon - Closer

Buchholz or Hansack may start the season with Boston if Colon is not ready. They'll probably spend most of their time in Pawtucket, and get called up as needed. If there is a significant injury, or they simply shine, they may stick longer. Gronkiewicz, Corey, Tejera and Masterson are all potential call ups as needed, but expect them to play mostly in the minors. They would be available to replace Tavarez, Snyder or Lopez if they aren't getting the job done.

That leaves Craig Hansen. So far, he still looks disappointing. He hit the Sox with such promise, but has shown very little since then. He throw very well, has a strong arm, but just can't get guys out. Not sure if it is mental, or perhaps predictability. Hopefully he can turn it around this year and start moving up!


Anonymous said...

Like cocaine or aircraft carriers, you can never have enough pitching. One cranky back has proven that.

Nice blog. Be mindful that you are getting exclamation point creep. You've gone from a sprinkling to a handful to a lot as the blog has continued.

Rooster said...

Exclamation creep! Wow, thanks for pointing that out - probably something I would not have noticed on my own.

Isn't it funny how much one pitching injury can mess things up? I've seen it happen many times. People wonder why we have 6 or 7 viable starters in spring training and before you know it we only have 4 for opening day.