Franklin Morales is starting for Josh Beckett on Sunday. I'm a little surprised Morales gets the start over Vincente Padilla, Andrew Miller, or Scott Atchison who have shown to be a little better in their outings this year, and who have all also had experience starting.
It could be, though, that Bobby Valentine has something different in mind, and that is to put Morales on a short leash, and combine his start with another long reliever to make a sort of duo-SP combo.
This is an idea I've had for a long time and should be done with several team's pitchers (though not necessarily the Red Sox this year) and in most of those team's starts.
I know, I know, that's crazy talk - three pitchers going no more than 4 innings each... But it could work, and would garner better results than many 3-4-5 traditional SPs can give you.
The traditional outing for a 3-4-5 SP begins with the intent of going 7 innings, or at least 6 innings, like a 1 or 2 SP is generally expected to go. But it just doesn't occur with the regularity of those top two guys. Especially in this age of hard-throwing pitchers dominating rosters, it allows for those harder-throwing, shorter outings to get the most out of them.
While Buchholz has really found himself recently and Doubront has perhaps been just as efficient as the most effective Boston pitches this year, this may not apply to the Red Sox now. But if you've got Dice-K and Bard as regular starters or the Buchholz and Bard SPs of April and May - like half the teams in the league probably do for three of their SP slots - there's a case for those guys to throw harder and fewer innings.
Consider this thought experiment: Instead of pitching lines like SP 6.1, RP 0.2, RP 1.0, and RP 1.0 in a good game, we would have SP1 4.0, SP2 3.0, RP 1.0, RP 1.0. Perhaps the SP1s and, definitely SP2s, could work on fewer rest days.
Essentially, you have two traditional 6+-inning SPs, three four-inning RPs who start, two three-inning RPs who come in early, three two-inning RPs, and two one-inning RPs. Of course, there will be some overlap between the one, two, and three-inning relievers to another slot in either direction. That will be dictated by the scenario when they enter the game.
This works especially well in the NL as it brings in a PH earlier in the game in the three non-traditional starts, and gets them in the games for at least one more AB. Again, it's probably not something we need to do on the Red Sox, but it could work for many teams, and certainly for the Sox on Sunday with Morales starting.