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Red Sox Rotation: What Should the Back End Look Like?

There are only four things we all know about the Red Sox rotation and they are as follows:

  1. Lester
  2. Beckett
  3. Lackey
  4. Badass

With emphasis being on No. 4.

All joking outside, we know what the first three starters look like. We don't necessarily know how one and two are going to pan out (most think Josh Beckett will earn the Opening Day start, but that's to be decided), but we at least know the players that encompass the top three.

But what about the last two?

The Sox have two spots and three viable candidates in Clay Buchholz, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield (and before you comment, no, the Sox will not go with a six-man rotation). Since this is not a perfect world, this is not an easy answer. Ironically enough, though, all three pitchers are completely different no matter which way you slice them.

Buchholz is the young gun with loads of potential. He's been working his way through the Red Sox system, proved himself at every level and is ready to be an every day starter. Except when he has started for the Sox, he hasn't had the best results (for the most part).

Matsuzaka is the high-paid, high-expectations starter from overseas. We've seen Dice-K at his best, but various issues -- including injury concerns and his command of the strikezone -- doesn't make him a reliable option. If Dice-K is healthy, Dice-K is in the rotation. That's not the case right now.

Wakefield is the cheap veteran that has always delivered when the Sox needed him to. Just when you think age is going to catch up with him, he comes back each and every February and puts solid numbers in the scoresheet. That's Tim Wakefield -- but you know he's going to break down at least once. OK, maybe twice.

That's the historical breakdown. But now, in the present? In spring training? Buchholz, struggling a lot. Wakefield, pitching great. Matsuzaka, hasn't pitched at all.

Like I said, they're complete opposites.

Let's just assume they're all healthy, even though they're not (Dice-K gets his first action today and Wakefield is obviously going to break down at some point). All three are healthy, so who do you want in the rotation?

Forget about contracts for a second. Think about the two players that could be the best pitchers for the Red Sox this season. Makes things hard, doesn't it? Buchholz and Matsuzaka have the high ceilings, but Wakefield has the consistency. You never really know what you're going to get out of Buchho or Dice-K, but it could be great. Wakefield has potential to be great, but more times than not he's a solid innings eater.

Not so easy, huh?

So what do you think: if all three players are healthy, who do you want in the end of the rotation? Do the potentials of Buchholz and Matsuzaka outweigh their potential downfalls? Do you really stick the reliable veteran Wakefield into the bullpen? Is that really even an option?

Pick your poison, Red Sox Nation.