On Thursday morning, reports circulated that it was looking like Red Sox ace, David Price, was probably going to need Tommy John surgery. This, as one would assume, sent panic through Red Sox Nation, especially as reports came out that the second opinion was going to come from one of the leading Tommy John surgeons in the world, Dr. James Andrews. Red Sox fans became even more concerned, as a second opinion from Dr. Andrews has almost never resulted without some sort of surgery, rehab, or injection happening afterwards. David Price turned out to be the rare exception. All that Dr. Andrews prescribed was 7 to 10 days of rest, a small price to pay when Tommy John surgery was in the discussion.
With that said, David Price is probably the most likely candidate for Tommy John surgery on the Red Sox staff. Over the past three seasons, Price has thrown 248.1, 220.1, and 230 innings (two of those seasons, 2014 and 2016, he led the majors in innings pitched). David Price has been one of the most durable pitchers in baseball, but if something like Tommy John surgery were to occur, what would the Red Sox pitching staff look like without him?
The projected pitching staff to start off the 2017 season looks like this:
And then a combination of Steven Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Drew Pomeranz.
If it were up to me, the rotation would be rounded out by Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez, moving Drew Pomeranz to the bullpen. This would be to avoid having four lefties in the rotation, and to give Drew Pomeranz less of a workload, as he struggled last season. In case one of the five starters got hurt, Pomeranz could slot into the rotation. But, if Price were to be out for the season, the rotation would look something like this:
This rotation, while still being undeniably above average (3 of the 5 were all-stars last season, while 1 was a Cy Young winner), has some major flaws. Both Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez only pitched for partial seasons last year due to injuries, while Drew Pomeranz experienced durability issues after coming over to the Red Sox from the Padres. If any one of the five starters above were to get injured, this is where the trouble truly lies.
While a spot start or two from the seemingly AAAA guys in Triple A, like Henry Owens, Roenis Elias, and Sean O’Sullivan, would not be satisfactory, it would not be a that big of a deal. But if any one of these guys had to make a significant amount of starts this season, the Red Sox would be in some serious trouble.
Another option would be to sign one of the remaining free agent starters. Although these starters, or should I say starter, are bottom of the barrel material, he still provides an option. That starter is Doug Fister. He honestly should barely be in the discussion, as it seems the AAAA pitchers would still pitch better than him. If anything, Fister provides a last resort for the Red Sox in case of an influx of injuries.
Then there is finally the option of trading for a starting pitcher. In my opinion, this is by far the worst option available. But that did not stop Fox Sports from publishing an article about five aces that the Red Sox could trade for following the David Price scare. This seems like an article that would have been written before the Chris Sale trade, in which the Red Sox added another ace to their rotation, and in the process drained a lot of talent from their farm system. The article does say the idea is “far-fetched,” but it really shouldn’t be in the discussion at all. After trades for Craig Kimbrel, Drew Pomeranz, and Chris Sale, the Red Sox farm system has been diminished significantly from what it once was, and another trade for an ace would make it Angels-level depleted.
In the event that the Red Sox do encounter this problem during the season, it will be interesting to see how they go about solving it.