John Farrell has revealed his plan for the Red Sox rotation, saying that if all goes well, Jon Lester will be first up, followed in order by John Lackey, Felix Doubront, Jake Peavy, and Clay Buchholz.
Clay Buchholz coming in at the tail end stands out like a sore thumb. When he was on the mound last year, Buchholz produced a stunning 1.74 ERA. He was one of the most dominant pitchers Fenway has seen in years. And yet, he only managed 108 innings, which seems to largely be why John Farrell has tabbed him for the final spot. Pitching fifth will give Buchholz a slightly easier schedule, perhaps allowing him to avoid the injuries that have plagued him in recent seasons.
That's certainly reason enough to make the move. Simply put, the order in which the starters pitch is just not all that important. If everthing went perfectly--no injuries, no double-headers, everything in perfect order--it would mean a difference of one start for Lackey or Lester at Buchholz' expense over the course of the season. But of course it won't go quite so smoothly. This rotation, as with every other, will be a jumbled mess before long. That's just how the regular season works.
Other than that, the ordering of Doubront and Peavy is slightly interesting. Peavy was the better performer over the course of the full season in 2013, but Doubront has established himself as a solid piece of Boston's rotation in the past two years, with durability problems tarnishing what would otherwise be an impressive pair of seasons. Given that Doubront should be entering his prime and showed up to camp having kept up his conditioning over the offseason, this is a nice, cost-free way for the Red Sox to show some faith in their youngest starting pitcher.