Hey, it's the part of the rotation you don't feel awful about! Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
With the return of Felix Doubront from the disabled list, and Daisuke Matsuzaka not far behind, the Red Sox are about to be flush with starting pitching. Heck, John Lackey could even pitch a game. Sometime. Maybe.
The only question is: what do they do with it?
We're in a funny part of the year where the standings seem to matter less and less with each passing day. I think this might be called "irrelevance," but it's been a while, so...
The upshot of that is that the Sox are free to do all sorts of crazy things with their rotation. Maybe they don't want to burn out the young guys, risk injury to the veterans, or even take a look at someone not currently in the picture. Do they go 5-man? 6-man? 7-man? Do they hold a daily lottery ball drawing to determine who will take the mound?
The point is there's a lot to be done with the talent in question, so what do you do?
Here are some thoughts about possible actions to take. Not all are full-on endorsements, but things to think about, perhaps. And after you're done ripping mine to shreds, feel free to share your own crazy ideas.
1) Put Josh Beckett on a Short Leash
If Beckett doesn't immediately build on his last start, it might be time to just call it a season. The fact is that the more Beckett is in the (entirely negative) spotlight, the more the Sox are going to be pressured to dump him over the offseason, and even if it would be in everyone's best interest (and I'm not sure that it is), it never helps for the team's hand to be completely revealed. Maybe if Sox fans aren't reminded of his ineffectiveness for the last month, it will help to cool things down.
2) Give Alfredo Aceves A Chance
The simple question is: why not? Yes, the Red Sox have no problem filling out the rotation right now, but they've also got no problem filling out the bullpen. This will give the Sox a chance to get Andrew Bailey into the closer role where he will almost invariably next year, and give Alfredo Aceves the chance to prove that he can start. Can he? No, I don't think so, but starts should almost be viewed as commodities for experimentation at this point. And if he bombs completely, maybe he'll be more open to reprising his 2011 role where he was the most valuable.
3) Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz Every Fifth Start.
These guys are on serious rolls, and should not have their momentum broken regardless of how the rest works out. Go into 2013 feeling secure in the top-2, if nothing else.
4) Keep Franklin Morales and Felix Doubront Going
They don't need to go every time through like Lester and Buchholz if things seem to be falling to pieces around them, but it will help to get their innings count up. Really, a balance would probably be best here between extended rest so their fatigue doesn't end up shattering confidence and value, but making sure they're ready to potentially shoulder a full season of starts in 2013.
5) Aaron Cook and Daisuke Matsuzaka On Demand
These are unimportant arms, to me, who will have little connection to the 2013 Red Sox. Throw them when needed to fit other schedules.
6) Maybe Give Zach Stewart A Start? Don't Let Britton Anywhere Near The Team
When it comes to minor leaguers, it wouldn't hurt to give Zach Stewart a look, if only to see what he has. He and Chris Hernandez are an interesting duo of starting depth in the minors, and Pawtucket's season will end eventually. A start or two might not hurt.
They probably would hurt Britton, on the other hand, who has been thrown around for the September. He's finally putting up consistent results in Portland after a year-and-a-half of train wreck, let's not upset that if we don't have to, please?
7) Start Daniel Bard
If it broke him, it can fix him!
No, seriously, don't do this.