MIAMI, FL: Josh Beckett #19 of the Boston Red Sox pitches during a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida. The Marlins defeated the Red Sox 4-1. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
The Red Sox have two starters on the disabled list, one of those for shoulder inflammation. They also have Daniel Bard in Pawtucket, converting back to relief. Felix Doubront, who has been healthy to this point, has a career-high of 129-1/3 innings in pro ball, set all the way back in 2008. Two of the replacement starters, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Cook, are coming back from Tommy John surgery and a significant gash to the knee, respectively. Lastly, Franklin Morales, the other fill-in hurler, was a one-inning reliever less than a month ago.
Josh Beckett, the one with the shoulder inflammation, will be back as of Saturday. The Red Sox haven't had a day off since June 18, and won't have another until July 5 -- they'll follow that up with four games in three days, before the All-Star break gives them a chance to breathe along with everyone else in the league. With all of the above in mind, now is a time that makes sense when it comes to utilizing a six-man rotation, and that's just what manager Bobby Valentine has in mind until the All-Star break.
This accomplishes a few things: it lets the club see more of Morales as a starter, and also gives them time to differentiate between what Dice-K and Aaron Cook are capable of. It's unlikely that all three hurlers can be kept around once the rotation is healthy again (assuming it stays that way by mid-July, anyway), so someone might need to be dealt to a team desperate for an arm at the deadline. The bullpen is full, none of these pitchers have an option, and the 40-man roster is overloaded thanks to the sooner-than-later need to remove Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, and Andrew Bailey from the 60-day disabled list.
From the more practical standpoint of how it affects games, though, this gives Doubront a little more time to breathe, in a year in which he'll most assuredly set a new career-high workload, assuming health. It eases up on the load Josh Beckett's shoulder is expected to carry. It allows the Red Sox to hold on to their resources -- Dice-K, Cook, Morales -- just a little bit longer, as they attempt to weather this injury storm. It keeps Boston from having to shuffle things around to compensate for the July 7 doubleheader against the Yankees. It helps ease Franklin Morales back into the role of starting pitcher, something he hadn't done since 2009 before suiting up to replace Beckett earlier in June.
Now, let's not ascribe too much credit to this particular iteration of the six-man, as it's just going to be two turns through the rotation, rather than a third for a pair of hurlers. But it's a situation where a little help beats any harm, and with how banged up the rotation has been as of late, the former is welcome.
The six-man rotation isn't always a positive -- it's fewer starts for, in theory, better pitchers, since they take their turns less often -- but in this particular context, with all of these games back-to-back-to-back-to-etc., with all of the injured and formerly injured around, it makes sense for the Red Sox right now.
Here's a look at how things should play out in the rotation until the All-Star break, assuming Clay Buchholz is out for that long as he recovers from esophagitis:
|06/27/12||Jon Lester||Blue Jays|