Red Sox

Drellich: Rodriguez, Porcello or Fister? Why it should matter less than you think

Drellich: Rodriguez, Porcello or Fister? Why it should matter less than you think

BOSTON — The party could begin as early as Thursday night at Fenway Park. If the Sox want the clubhouse disco to extend into October, there’s an obvious choice to make with their Division Series roster.

All this hand-wringing over which pitcher starts what game is a little unnecessary. Because all three guys who seem uncertain — Doug Fister, Eduardo Rodriguez and Rick Porcello — should be on the roster, even if it means carrying 12 pitchers, and John Farrell must be fearless yanking any of the three almost immediately.

Only two members of that back-end trio will be in line to make an actual start in the DS (as long as it gets to four games this time). Here’s betting the starters will be Rodriguez and Porcello. 

But the odd man out, whoever it is, in effect remains a starter: a tandem starter held in reserve. The back-up.

Fister, for example, might not make a start. But if he bails out Rodriguez and goes longer than Rodriguez on the day E-Rod started, what’s the difference?

Wednesday’s 10-7 win over the Blue Jays only hammered home how much the Sox need an insurance plan. Porcello was again bit by poor location and home runs. The 38 he allowed this year ties him for the Red Sox single-season record.

The Sox offense bailed out Porcello and Farrell this time let Porcello stick around, but the hook should come quick in the postseason. 

All of Fister, Rodriguez and Porcello are implosion risks. Rodriguez has the highest upside of the bunch, at least when it comes to swing-and-miss stuff. Porcello has become so homer happy that starting him in a presumed match-up with the Astros, who have an excellent offense, is a frightening proposition. Fister’s been inconsistent, but he does keep the ball on the ground at a 50.2 percent clip. 

Say the choice comes down to Fister or Porcello for a start. Fister’s prior experience in the bullpen could be a deciding factor here, that and the sense that a contact pitcher like him is more vulnerable to having something go wrong.

David Price is indeed a starter in the bullpen. Why do you need another, you ask? Price is not there to bail out a starter. He could do so, sure, but he’s best used as a late-inning, high-leverage bridge. 

Even Drew Pomeranz all of a sudden feels like less of a certainty because his velocity has dropped. If he’s throwing 89-90 mph and getting hit hard in his start, there has to be someone the Sox can turn to. 

The Sox carried all five starters on last year’s playoff roster. More than in 2016, the game plan this year for the Sox is built around pitching, not hobbled hitters. 

Dustin Pedroia returned to the lineup Wednesday and Mookie Betts said he feels like he can on Thursday. Xander Bogaerts and Hanley Ramirez may be perking up at just the right time. But the formula is unchanged.

The roulette game with Rodriguez, Fister and Porcello will get a lot of hype. Whoever the “loser" is could actually wind up more important than the other two, riding in from the bullpen to save the day.

He has to be on the roster first to jump on his white horse.

Report: Red Sox aiming to sign both J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer


Report: Red Sox aiming to sign both J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer

While the Red Sox’ interest in free agents J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer has been well-documented, it may not be a one-or-the-other situation. 

According to the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman, Boston’s intention is to sign both Martinez and Hosmer in an effort to strengthen an offense that finished last in the American League in home runs in 2016. Though Dave Dombrowski declined to comment on any and all free agent discussions, Silverman wrote that the team’s “goal is to sign them both.” 

Martinez, 30, has seen his power numbers fluctuate throughout his career. He belted 29 homers in 62 games after getting traded to the Diamondbacks last season to finish the campaign with a career-best 45 homers between Detroit and Arizona. His previous career-high in home runs was 38, which he hit in 2015 with the Tigers. 

The 28-year-old Hosmer, who has played his entire career with the Royals since being drafted third overall by them in 2008, hit .318/.385/.498 last season with 25 homers and 94 RBI. He’s hit 25 home runs in back-to-back seasons; they are the only two seasons of his seven-year career in which he’s hit 20 or more.
Silverman estimates that signing both players could cost as much as a combined $450 million. 

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Will Red Sox' patient approach pay off?


BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Will Red Sox' patient approach pay off?

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0:41 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins from the TD Garden to discuss the Celtics getting the win over the Nuggets, Kyrie Irving taking advantage of his matchup, Shane Larkin’s performance off the bench, and if Gordon Hayward will return this season.

5:18 - Michael Holley, Tom Curran, Michael Hurley, and DJ Bean discuss Tom Brady’s success in his career against the Pittsburgh Steelers and if that success will continue on Sunday. 

9:34 - Evan Drellich joins from the MLB Winter Meetings to talk about the Red Sox needing to stay disciplined with their roster flexibility, and the latest on J.D. Martinez. 

15:09 - Holley, Curran, Hurley, and Bean discuss Malcolm Butler’s now deleted retweet about Jay Cutler’s success against the Patriots when facing a blitz.