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The Flyby: Fixing the Rotation

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What would you do?

New York Mets Vs. Boston Red Sox At Fenway Park Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

This past week, the topic of the day was the rotation. Specifically, how to fix it. You can review the prompt here.


A Trade to Help the Rotation - GOAT91

What they said - The rotation is a mess. Once Rick Porcello and David Price left town, and then Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez were out for medical reasons, what was once a strength became a liability. The problem may be too far gone to fix for 2020. Additionally, this season faces the possibility it may not even conclude. That said, there are things the Red Sox can do which would make sense, like Austin Voth in exchange for Michael Chavis.

I actually wonder if the Nationals would be willing to do something in that mold. Austin Voth may not be the sexiest pitcher on the market, but he’s very serviceable, and has been fairly reliable on his ascent up the minor-league ladder. He stalled for a little bit in Triple-A as a result of being blocked by a fantastic system of pitchers and some repeat blues — I’ve wondered how second showings in Triple-A go when the first showing, on paper, was good enough to make the majors, but didn’t. I’ll never question things like motivation from a professional athlete, but I have to wonder if there’s any effect when your number isn’t called from a long-term confidence standpoint.

Voth is now 28 years old and still doesn’t have a full-time role with the Nationals. Ignoring a one game sample so far in 2020, Voth was quietly decent in his brief exposure to the major leagues last year in nine starts.

None of his pitches will blow you away, but he has a four-pitch mix which can profile as fringe-average to average offerings, though whether he has all working at once is another matter entirely.

The downside: His batted ball splits don’t imply to me that he’ll be able to continue being a mid 3.00’s to low 4.00’s ERA pitcher without some work. He gives up a lot of hard contact, and far too much of that is in the air. While he’s gotten away with it with the Nationals, that type of skill set doesn’t really play all that well at Fenway Park.

I don’t think I’d give up Michael Chavis for him, at any rate. Not because Chavis is hyper valuable (I think it’s highly likely we’ve seen the best he has to offer), but because I don’t think Voth would actually end up being enough of an improvement over what we have to justify such a move, especially if we’re throwing in the towel on 2020. Next year, Sale will be back. Rodriguez may be too, assuming things progress the way we hope with his heart condition. Eovaldi will still be here. Acquiring a guy like Voth will probably be easier next year, when we’re actively attempting to win more ball games. Michael Chavis may be able to get a young asset, or a better asset later on.


Division Series - St Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals - Game Three Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Bring on Edwin Jackson - Birdbirdword

What they said - Why not take a chance on Edwin Jackson? He is competitive, has some skills, and wants to be on the field. With the lack of competition, he may as well be worth evaluating.

I’m going to lead this statement by saying: “Sure, why not, sounds fun,” even though I think it would not work out well for the Red Sox.

For all the talk of competitiveness, he was well below average last year, and has only been an average or better pitcher (by ERA+) once since 2016. By FIP (which is, in my opinion, a much better stat to use anyway) the numbers are far less flattering. He has only had an FIP below 5.00 once in that same time frame... and it was a 4.65.

While Jackson has had years that would have been fun to watch, were they in a Red Sox uniform, those years have by far left us in the dust. With declining peripherals across the board and a park that is poorly tailored for pitchers like him, it would be a better idea to go with in-house options. They would also presumably be cheaper, and that clearly matters a lot to this organization right now.


I’ll keep my own section brief. I actually don’t think the Red Sox should even try to fix the pitching at this point in the season. Anyone you sign is going to take a while to get stretched out unless they’ve been preparing themselves for a mid-season signing. Plus, they have to pass intake (and we saw what happened when Yasiel Puig didn’t), which is not the certainty we typically think of it as. By the time anyone you sign takes the mound, the Red Sox could end up being 5-15 and completely out of the playoff race. With only 60 games, and a team probably needing a .500-ish record to make it in as one of 16 teams, the Red Sox would need to go on a relative tear, at 25-15, which they just have not shown the ability to do. And with the pandemic likely cancelling a few games at bare minimum, the reality is that the Red Sox may have to actually play even better than that (like winning 10 straight games just to get back to .500 in that hypothetical 5-15 situation).

When I spoke to Joe Buck a couple weeks back, he spoke a lot about immediacy, and how a single bad week (or two) can essentially end your season, because of how short the season is this year. I think there’s something to that. Not that I expect the Orioles to be world beaters and win the World Series, but there’s a slightly higher chance of the Orioles making the playoffs than there is of us making them, even to this point in the season. We’ve played over a sixth of the season, and time is running out for us to make a run.

Anybody signed by the Red Sox would have to hit the ground running and be nearly flawless in order to be a positive return on the investment unless they were a young pitcher with control (which quite simply, isn’t on the free agent market at the moment). Trades aren’t terribly likely, because I doubt Chaim Bloom is going to be attempting to move the prospects currently on the 60 man roster for a short-term band-aid. Any trade that is likely is a long-term investment, not a short-term one.

I know what you may be thinking, “do nothing?”. To put it in a single word, yes. I think it would be more beneficial at this juncture for the Red Sox to call up Bryan Mata (who I’ve long been the low man on) and Tanner Houck, among other Red Sox prospects, and see what they’ve got in the tank, in preparation for the 2021 season. If the Red Sox win, great. If they don’t... well, there’s always a chance of a higher draft pick. While they won’t end up with the #1 pick (and thus, dreams of Kumar Rocker fade away), they could still end up in the top 10 selections, and pick up somebody like a Braylon Bishop or Luke Leto.


FanPosts From Around The Site

Soroka’s Injury and the State of Pitching - Scarecrow13 writes a nice long-form piece about how we should probably reevaluate how we think about pitching prospects by taking a hard look at the panned Braves farm system, once overloaded with terrific pitching prospects. It dives into some complex thought processes, and may change your opinion on pitching in general. The game is evolving, and Scarecrow13 is asking the right questions.

GOAT91 Wants to Cancel the Season - While selfishly, he wants the season to go on (and I think that speaks for a lot of people, especially those who don’t watch other sports), GOAT91 thinks it’s time for MLB to probably pull the plug. Rules are being made up as they go, competitive balance is being thrown out of whack, and unless you are a top prospect, odds are you are losing development time anyway. There’s a lot more to digest, and everything is a mess.

See you all on Friday! Halfway home, everyone!