So John Lackey threw a successful bullpen session and is due to rehab in Pawtucket and be back in the rotation on June 5th against the A’s. But considering that the Sox are 3-1 in games started by the replacements for Lackey and Dice-K, Aceves and Wakefield. The only loss was a should-have-been victory that ended after Matt “Fat” Albers spectacular failure in place of the tired Bard in the 8th. The two have turned in 4 straight quality starts and considering that Lackey was damn near the worst pitcher in the American League before being injured, the question remains what should be done with the Red Sox rotation come June 5th. Who gets the boot and where do they go?
I may be in the minority when I say I have not completely lost confidence in John Lackey. The second half of last season he was actually pretty good and by far the Sox most consistent pitcher outside of Lester and Buchholz. His wife is in failing health this year and being a pitcher myself, I know how clear your head has to be in order to succeed and I just don’t know if his head was totally in it earlier this year. The Sox giving him some time off will do wonders for him and I believe he’ll be able to come back and be an effective, if only slightly above-average pitcher. So assuming he gets his spot back for the time being, either Wake or Aceves must go.
Some people say that Aceves should go back into the bullpen because he’s more apt for the pen than Wake. But with the Sox recent acquisition of Franklin Morales, the return of Wheeler and soon-to-be return of Bobby Jenks, and the emergence of Rich Hill as an extremely effective lefty, space is very limited in the pen. I’m not ready to send Hill back down to AAA until he proves he’s hittable and I’d like to see a little more of Morales before sending him down for some more seasoning in AAA. So the bullpen seems firmly established as Albers, Hill, Morales, Wheeler, Jenks, Bard, and Papelbon. Whichever starter gets the boot will most likely be sent to AAA Pawtucket.
Everyone knows what Wakefield brings to this rotation. He’s been an innings eater who throughout his career has shown he can consistently put up an ERA around 4.50. But he’s prone to either be unhittable or an absolute disaster and at this point of his career and with his recent back problems, he’s certainly no sure thing. Aceves, while not having much starting experience, has already shown that his stuff can hold up while seeing batters 2,3 and 4 times through a lineup and his career ERA of 3.03 is considerably better than Wake’s. He started some games for the Yankees in 2008 and showed he can be effective and efficient in that role.
So while Aceves may be more effective than Wakefield, Aceves has minor league options left, meaning he can be sent down without having to clear waivers, while Wakefield would need to be designated for assignment and any team could snatch him up if they wanted to. For this reason I feel the Sox will keep Wake in the rotation and send Aceves back down to Pawtucket to serve as quality starting depth for this rotation until somebody either falls apart in the pen, Wake proves his knuckleball has lost its punch, or Lackey is really is as bad as he seems. The Red Sox do not want to risk losing either of these guys and sending down Aceves may be the only way to insure that.
What are your opinions? What do you think is best for this team and what do you think they will do?