We asked CSNNE.com's Red Sox insider, Sean McAdam, the same questions we're asking you in our preseason survey. Over the next few days, Sean will give his answers; see if you agree and, if you haven't already, click the link and cast your votes.
This question: Which starter will emerge as the Red Sox 'Ace'? Click here for his answer to today's other question: Which Red Sox player will have the biggest bounceback season?
A case could be made that any one of the starters could evolve into the team's No. 1 starter.
Clay Buchholz has shown flashes of brilliance -- if not much consistency or durability -- over the course of his career. Joe Kelly's stuff is as good, if not better, than anyone in the current rotation. Justin Masterson was an All-Star only two years ago, and Wade Miley, backed by a far better infield defense and more powerful offense than he had in Arizona, could blossom.
But the best bet remains Rick Porcello, who may have taken the first important steps a year ago. The 2014 season was a turning point for Porcello, who fashioned the lowest ERA (3.43) of his six-year career while also establishing a new career high for innings pitched (204 2/3). In fact, nearly every measurable stat -- from WHIP to walk rate to complete games -- was a career best.
Beyond those obvious numbers, however, there's the sense that Porcello, who reached the big leagues at 20, less than two years after being drafted out of high school, finally blossomed as a major league pitcher in 2014.
He rediscovered his curveball, refined his biting sinker and added a cutter to his arsenal, and seemed to be showing the benefits of being teammates with front-line starters such as Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, two Cy Young Award-winners.
No less an authority than Scherzer recently told The Boston Glove: "You look forward to him being even better in the future because of what he can do now as opposed to a couple of years ago.”
And should Porcello need any additional motivation, there's this: He's eligible for free agency this fall and, even in a crowded starter's market (David Price, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Jordan Zimmerman), could help earn himself a long-term, nine-figure contract with a strong season.
Check back tomorrow when Sean answers these two questions: 1) Who will prove to be the season's best acquisition? 2) Which offseason acquisition will prove to be the biggest bust?