Strength or weakness

Eric D. Schabell
Contributing Writer

The season started with a pretty good looking starting rotation.

The Red Sox had Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Felix Doubront in mind at the beginning of the season.

Funny how things have worked out.

A pretty darn good first half of the year with the Red Sox leading their division by 2.5 games posting as .598 winning percentage.

The thing is, was the rotation a strength or a weakness?

The two best pitchers so far have been John Lackey and Felix Doubront. Yes, you heard that right, John Lackey and Felix Doubront.

Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester have been disappointing over the first half of the season to say the least. Let's take a closer look.

Clay Buchholz has been phenomenal, when he is healthy. unfortunately, he has been out with injuries in every one of his major league seasons. This last 'injury' has been a frustrating one for everyone, with him leading the medial staff it seems as to when he will be ready to start throwing, rehab starts, and then appearing for the Red Sox. It has been going on since early June, no end in sight, so we are lighting candles as it approaches the ridiculous.

Jon Lester looked promising at the start of the season going 6-0 over his first 9 starts. He struck out at least 5 hitters in each start, pitching into the 7th inning in 5 of those starts. It looked like he was back to the form he had 2 years earlier, but now it seems like the distant past, a time when he actually threw a no-hitter (2008).

Since May he is 2-6 with a 6.49 ERA. After walking only 15 batters in the first 9 starts, he has walked 30 in the last 11 starts. He is gone with the wind and no real explanation as to if he will ever be back. We just hold our breath when he starts and hope for the best.

That pretty much covers the weaknesses, now a look at the strengths that have kept the Red Sox winning.

John Lackey is a complete turn around and is even likable now. His fastball velocity is back up to his time in Anaheim and his curveball has that wicked movement to get hitters out. He as gone at least 7 innings in each of his last 6 starts, is 4-1 over that period, with 41 strikeouts against only 8 walks. His 2.78 ERA is 4th in the American League.

Felix Doubront has been the most reliable of the bunch, which is strange as he showed up in the Spring out of shape, his velocity was down, and his delivery was a mess. He ended up in the bullpen until he got a second chance. Since then he has had 11 starts, with a 2.70 ERA over that period, and has not given up more than 3 runs in any of those starts. Just recently on a road trip, he went 2-0, pitching 13.2 innings, striking out 11 and walking only 4 batters.

He is all that and a bag of chips.

With talks of trade deadlines looming, who can the Red Sox acquire that can fill the shoes of both Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester? Nobody, that's who. That is just too much of a hole to fill, no matter how big and bad your shovel is.

Clay Buchholz needs to get it together, do his rehabs, and get back on the mound or it will be September before we see him again. Jon Lester needs to figure it out and fix it fast. There is no trade that will fix this and not cost the Red Sox too much in prospects or money.

Vacation is over boys, time to get back to work.

Post a comment or via twitter @ericschabell with your thoughts.

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