While neither the Red Sox nor the Yankees are getting strong overall performances from their respective rotations, it’s pretty clear that Boston has the edge here as we look forward to the remainder of the 2008 campaign.
Both teams are relying on youngsters to fill rotation spots, but in New York’s case, the youth movement is definitely having its hiccups, while for Boston, the results have been mixed.
For the Yanks, Phil Hughes was getting roughed up badly before landing on the DL. Ian Kennedy wasn’t much better before New York opted to send him down to work out his control issues. In Boston, Jon Lester’s peripherals are troubling, but his results to date have been acceptable. Clay Buchholz, the other young starter the team is relying on, has shown tremendous talent at times, but has also been bitch slapped far too often, especially recently (18 hits, 12 runs and six walks over 8 1/3 IP in his last two starts).
The difference here is that Boston has options. While the Yanks have brought in Darrell Rasner and Kei Igawa, the options for the Red Sox are much more palatable. In fairness, Rasner has done very well in his pair of starts, but I have my doubts about his ability to sustain this success over the long haul. Igawa, judging by his season debut, is definitely not the answer.
That leaves the Yankees desperate to get Hughes back and see Kennedy turn things around. I mean, let’s face it – bringing David Wells back, as one rumour suggested, reeks of desperation.
Boston, meanwhile, has a former Cy Young winner nearly ready to step in for their struggling youngster. Bartolo Colon has now recovered from his injury and is toiling in the Pawtucket rotation. Boston needs to promote him by June 1 or Colon can become a free agent. Now that Buchholz has been placed on the DL, expect to see Colon up much sooner than that. Colon takes the mound Thursday, so check on his outing, because he will soon be someone you need to target. If the fat man isn’t ready right away, Boston will likely bring up Justin Masterson to take Buchholz’s next scheduled start.
When Buchholz is eligible to come off the DL, meanwhile, will either be sent down to take Colon’s place at Pawtucket, or kept in Boston to work in long relief. And if the rookie can’t figure it out in the minors, Boston has a rehabbing Curt Schilling waiting in the wings to pitch in down the stretch. But that’s not something he’ll be ready to do until the later stages of the season.
The point is, while neither team is where it wants to be (Boston is sitting a half game behind the surprising Rays in the AL East, while the Yanks are under .500), the BoSox appear to have more legitimate options within the organization compared to the Yankees. And that, I’d suggest, will prove to be the key differentiator in the lastest chapter of this great rivalry.
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