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OTM Roundtable: Ranking the rotation

How should we feel about this group the rest of the year?

Boston Red Sox v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Red Sox are having a surprisingly good start to their season, and one of the big reasons has been both the health and the performance of their rotation. They have exceeded expectations on both fronts, although cracks are starting to show in a few different spots as far as the performance goes. All five of their starters this year have had really strong stretches, but they’ve also had portions of the year in which it’s not clear they will be able to keep this team in contention for the entire season. As such, it’s sort of a muddled group of five at the moment. To help add some clarity, this week’s staff roundtable is: How would you rank the five Red Sox starting pitchers for the rest of the season?

Shelly Verougstraete

It has been an interesting season so far for the starting rotation, with the back-end guys performing better than the top two, at least for stretches of the year. That being said, I’d rank the five on their rest of season performance like this:

  1. Nathan Eovaldi
  2. Eduardo Rodriguez
  3. Martín Pérez
  4. Nick Pivetta
  5. Garrett Richards

You might be a bit curious as to why I have Richards as the fifth guy. The increasing walk totals in his last couple of outings have me concerned that his mechanics might be out of whack again.

Michael Walsh

I’d rank the 5 starters in order as:

  1. Nathan Eovaldi
  2. Eduardo Rodriguez
  3. Garrett Richards
  4. Nick Pivetta
  5. Martín Pérez

The top two in the rotation are definitely set, and I have full confidence in both pitchers when they take the mound. The other three could honestly be mixed up in several ways, but I settled on Richards at three because his overall stats are somewhat skewed by his first few poor starts. His FIP since April 22nd is a solid 3.01, and he’s looked like a different pitcher. Pivetta has been great, but I can’t bump him up to three until he figures out his control and gets his walk rate into the single digits. Martín Pérez has also been very solid, it was hard to put him at 5 since he’s been pitching so well, but I gave Pivetta the edge simply because he has more swing-and-miss/strikeout potential. All in all, though, it’s been quite the start for this Red Sox staff. After finishing dead last in the majors in starter fWAR last year, they currently sit fifth! Talk about an impressive turnaround.

Keaton DeRocher

I’m going to go with:

  1. Nathan Eovaldi
  2. Eduardo Rodriguez
  3. Garrett Richards
  4. Nick Pivetta
  5. Martín Pérez

The last three are really close though. The top two guys have both performed better than their ERA’s suggest looking at their FIP and xFIP and they’re also the most talented so I feel comfortable with them getting better as we go the rest of the way. The other three are a bit of a crapshoot, Richards has been the best over the last couple of weeks, but is still struggling with walks but his history suggests he can fix it. I’m just not quite there with Pivetta though with every passing start the ability to doubt him gets smaller and I think Pérez is what he is even though he’s been the most consistent pitcher of them all he still just a guy.

Atlanta Braves v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Phil Neuffer

I still think Eduardo Rodriguez is the best starter on the current staff. His production this year has been wildly inconsistent and there is definitely reason to be a little worried, but he has the second-lowest expected ERA in the rotation (3.45) and is striking out more batters per nine innings than the rest of the Red Sox’s regular starters. If he can limit the home runs and get his velocity back to normal, he’ll be just fine.

After Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi is my pick for the No. 2 starter spot. He is the team leader among starters in FIP (2.44) and expected ERA (3.30) and has done a great job of avoiding free passes and home runs.

Nick Pivetta will throw a no-hitter on Aug. 3 (or thereabouts), but I still have him as the third-best starter in the rotation. He has some of the best surface-level numbers on the staff, but his walk rate makes me nervous.

In the fourth spot, I have Martín Pérez. He’s been pretty solid this season, but I think he’s pitching at his ceiling right now and I expect a bit of regression as the summer progresses.

Lastly, I’ve got Garrett Richards. He has the lowest strikeout rate in the rotation and his walk rate is only a bit below Pivetta’s. I’ve been encouraged by some of the flashes of brilliance he’s shown, but his overall body of work makes me think this will be a tough year for him.

Mike Carlucci

1. Nathan Eovaldi

2. Garrett Richards

3. Eduardo Rodriguez

3. Nick Pivetta

5. Martín Pérez

With the rank out of the way, I think E-Rod bounces back and Pivetta regresses a bit to wash out the differences and they are their own small group of starting pitchers on the list. Eovaldi if he’s healthy is still my pick for a full season. Richards has almost the same caveat for health and almost the same upside. There’s not a slight on Pérez, he’s just the fifth-best guy here. But he’s capable of a nice run and can contribute a lot of value out of the fifth rotation spot - something the Sox have lacked in a few recent seasons.

Jake Kostik

Of those in the rotation right now, my expectations are tempered. Once Sale is back I feel pretty good, but I think this group has played a little above their heads.

I would rank the current group for the remainder of the season as follows:

  1. Garrett Richards
  2. Nick Pivetta
  3. Eduardo Rodriguez
  4. Nathan Eovaldi
  5. Martín Pérez

People will think I have it out for Perez, but we have seen this before. In his first 10 games of 2017, he was great: a 3.77 ERA in a year where offense was elevated compared to this one. The rest of the way? 5.29. Is that still fine for a five? Perhaps, but that’s also what we expected: a number five pitcher.

Brady Childs

  1. Eduardo Rodríguez
  2. Nathan Eovaldi
  3. Garrett Richards
  4. Martín Pérez
  5. Nick Pivetta

I could be wrong, but I feel like this is chalk. The confidence intervals aren’t exactly high here, either. I’ll put my faith in E-Rod, but the rest are wild cards. Pivetta, Richards, and Pérez all have DRA’s significantly higher than their current ERA’s. DRA has never liked Pérez and sees a home run regression coming for Pivetta, and Richards’ peripherals are concerning despite better performance recently. The upshot with Pérez is that while DRA hates him, he’s beaten it every year and now his strikeout rate has taken a leap. You could jumble two through five in this list in any order and I wouldn’t be surprised with any of it, but I do have more faith in the proven veterans over Pivetta and would much prefer if Tanner Houck was getting starts over him despite his pretty surface-level numbers so far. I think his luck runs out before long.

Bryan Joiner

1. Eduardo Rodriguez, by a hair

2. Nathan Eovadli, by a bit more

3. Garrett Richards, by Aceves please stay healthy

4. Martín Pérez, by the way, I’m actually enjoying #PérezDay

5. Nick Pivetta, by way of continuing my double reverse-schmoo, and making him good

Matt Collins

  1. Eduardo Rodriguez
  2. Nathan Eovaldi
  3. Nick Pivetta
  4. Garrett Richards
  5. Martín Pérez

I’m pretty confident in most of these rankings. I know Rodriguez has been hit around a bit lately and I’m not so sure it’s more luck than his fault, but I think the peripherals are also good enough and his track record is such that I think he’s the best of this group. Ditto Eovaldi at number two. Pérez has been really good this year, but I still can’t buy into him being more than a number five. I think he’s a good number five, but a number five all the same. As for three and four, I could go back and fourth on that one and wouldn’t quibble too much if you swapped that order.

Jake Devereaux

Ranking how I think the Red Sox current starters will perform for the rest of the year is hard. There are so many factors that can change a pitcher’s performance, but here is my attempt.

1. Garrett Richards: Since figuring it out in his start against the Mets on April 27th he has been a different pitcher. Since then he’s thrown 37.1 IP over six starts with a 2.65 ERA and 35/13 K/BB ratio. I trust his stuff even if he’s been a little worse lately.

2. Nathan Eovaldi: The guy just has good stuff, good command, and so many weapons. Yes, he has scuffled lately, but I trust him as long as he remains healthy.

3. Eduardo Rodriguez: Is he talented? Yes. Is he consistent? No. Emphatically no. I have never trusted E-Rod even though the stuff is enticing at times. When he’s on he’s great, he’s just way too trick or treat for me.

4. Martín Pérez: Speaking of guys who are on a hot streak, over his last six starts Perez has an ERA of 2.53 over 32 IP. During that time he has struck out 32 and walked just 12. Perez doesn’t have the stuff of the guys above him on this list, but his stuff is good enough and he knows how to pitch to weak contact.

5. Nick Pivetta: The walks scare the hell out of me. On the season he has 59 strikeouts over 53.2 IP. That is very good. The 26 walks that he has issued over that period give me some pause when it comes to believing in that sub 4.00 ERA he has. He has certainly made positive strides, but I will need to see it for longer to believe it.