With the pick up of Schilling, the exercising of options for Tim Wakefield and Julian Tavarez there are now 7 potential starters for the Boston Red Sox: Beckett, Schilling, DiceK,Wakefield, Bucholz, Lester and Tavarez. What are we going to do with the extra two you ask? Obviously Julian Tavarez can be moved to the bullpen. What about the other 6? The other night I was talking with my co-workers about the option of possibly having a 6-man rotation. Turns out I might not be as crazy as I thought, this was from Nick Cafardo in today's Boston Globe:
"Epstein was asked about going to a six-man rotation and did not close the door on the idea. In fact, he said, it had been and would be up for discussion. Matsuzaka and Schilling likely would benefit by an extra day's rest."
The idea of having a 6 man rotation is somewhat odd. With Josh Beckett's youth and dominant pitching we wouldn't want to reduce his starts, but it would seem to make perfect sense for the rest of the rotation. Matsuzaka has pitched his entire career on a six man rotation, the transition to a 5 man rotation certainly took it's toll on Daisuke and he seemed to have some fatigue issues later in the year. Schilling is aging and seemed to benefit from working on an additional days rest. Tim Wakefield is also aging, although this is less of a factor due to the fact that he is a knuckleballer, given the injuries he incurred this year I'm inclined to believe it couldn't hurt for him to spread out his starts a bit more. Clay Bucholz has never pitched a full season in the majors and had to be shut down by the Red Sox before the playoff for fatigue issues, having extra rest between starts might help him transition to the grind of the majors. Jon Lester has also never had a full year at the big leagues, who's to say how he'll react to his first full season? This would still leave Julian Tavarez as the insurance man in the bullpen should their be an injury to one of the starters.
If the Sox don't choose to do this then I'm at a loss for who's going to be the odd man out. Beckett, Schilling and Daisuke are the untouchables. Wakefield has been a bullpen guy in the past, but he won 17 games last year as a starter. I don't think there would be any benefit to keeping Lester and Bucholz in the minors, they're both ready for the big leagues and would be going to waste in Pawtucket.
Isn't it great that with the current lack of starting pitchers on the free agent market this year we have more quality starters than we know what to do with? Big supply, strong demand, sounds like the formula for a favorable off season trade market for the Red Sox.