By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Chris Sale will not be ready for the regular season, leaving the Red Sox a starter short in their rotation. That’s not an ideal problem to have for a team that was already a starter short in their rotation.
Sale isn’t expected to miss an extended period of time to start 2020, but his delay means the only certainties in the Boston rotation to start the season are Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovladi and Martin Perez. All three carry their own set of question marks, leaving a giant swath of uncertainty surrounding Boston’s starting five (or four… or three… or whatever it is).
Interim manager Ron Roenicke hinted that Boston could use an “opener” as their fifth starter to begin the season, and they may do the same to fill Sale’s spot as a short term solution. That’s your 2020 Red Sox in a nutshell.
“We can do it with two spots in the rotation, but we’ll see if someone emerges and covers one of those spots,” said Roenicke.
Ryan Weber, a 29-year-old righty with a 3-9 record and 5.04 ERA over his five-year career is one candidate. But he only has 11 major league starts during his time with the Braves, Mariners, Rays and Red Sox, including three for Boston in 2019. Overall, Weber went 2-4 with a 5.09 ERA and 1.377 WHIP in his 18 appearances for the disappointing Red Sox last season.
Righty Chris Mazza is another candidate, according to Roenicke, but the 30-year-old has exactly zero Major League starts under his belt. He started 17 games in the Mets minor league system last year, going 3-5 with a 3.61 ERA.
No one would blame you if you don’t feel inspired by either of those options, whether they take Sale’s spot or the No. 5 spot. So should we expect the Red Sox to go find another starting pitcher ahead of the 2020 season?
Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said he’s considering it, but it has nothing to do with Sale’s delay. And from the sounds of it, he’s much more likely to fill the void with someone already in the Boston system.
“We would always want to accumulate as much depth as we can. So I don’t think that changes,” Bloom said Thursday in Fort Myers. “But at the same time, we have a lot of guys here we’re interested in learning more about, that we’re excited about, and we brought them all in for a reason. We have some guys within the organization to help them get better. This is good to see them put those adjustments into play and learn more about them.”
It doesn’t sound like Bloom is in any rush to go sign any of the veteran hurlers still looking for employment, a list that includes Clay Buchholz, Marco Estrada and Matt Harvey. And it’s kind of hard to blame him on that front.
But Boston’s cost-cutting initiative this offseason means Rick Porcello will be eating innings and making 35 starts for the New York Mets, and David Price will whine his way through the season in Los Angeles. Porcello was replaced with Perez, while Price was replaced with… a bunch of relievers pretending to be starters. Bloom may have no other choice but to hit the bargain bin at some point, giving a veteran one last shot.
But given the options, don’t expect much of anything. The 2020 season could be a long one for the Red Sox rotation.