I know it’s early to be thinking about 2009 starting rotations but with the news about Curt Schilling’s potentially career ending surgery, I started thinking about the Sox’s future rotation. I think the chances of Theo Epstein resigning Bartolo Colon after this season are slim, and the battle of the last rotation spot seems more and more like it will be between Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson. My pick at this point would have to be Clay Buchholz. First of all, if you look at Buchholz’s career minor league numbers versus Masterson’s ML numbers you have to like what Buchholz could do in 2009. Buchholz has proven himself at every level in the minors, seems like he could still good work at the major league level this season. I don’t see Clay being a very good major league starter until next year. On the other hand, Masterson has seemingly breezed through the minors and posted great numbers in his first six starts with the Red Sox. If you look closely at Masterson’s numbers you will see he REALLY went through the minors. He started with Lancaster (High A) and did well in the hitter-friendly league. He got called up to AA Portland and did absolutely phenomenal in his first four starts, but tailed off and ended with average numbers: 4-3, 4.34 in 10 starts.
The Red Sox had Masterson start this year back in Portland, and once again had average numbers, 1-3, 4.28 in 8 starts. After one start in AAA, Masterson got called up to Fenway and has made people forget how unspectacular he was in the minors. Masterson reminds of another sinkerball pitcher who was a rookie last year, Kyle Kendrick. Kendrick was an essential piece of the Phillies run last year, but this year had tailed off to the tune of 5.06 ERA. I don’t see how the Red Sox could keep Buchholz out of the rotation next year. Here are Buchholz’s minor league numbers: Double A – 16-6, 2.23 ERA with 189.2 innings pitched in 36 starts. Triple A – 1-4 3.78 with 54.2 innings pitched in 12 starts. The AAA numbers are not ace like, but I like what will Clay be able to do in his sixth professional season. I see at least a number four starter in him next year. After that, him and Beckett will be great at the top at the rotation. I like a future Red Sox rotation of Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Clay Buchholz, John Lester and Michael Bowden/Nick Hagadone . Just in case you are wondering here are Hagadone’s (the Red Sox first draft pick in 2007) numbers in the minors since he has been drafted: 2-1, 1.31 ERA with 34.1 innings pitched in 13 starts split with Low A and A ball. OK, I’m done with this entry and hopefully I’ll be back blogging about some other team besides the Red Sox. And just in case you have not seen it yet: copy and past this URL to the address bar: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080620&content_id=2969030&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb