Boston’s Ridiculous Pitching Depth Pt. 1

The Boston Red Sox organization may have the best pitching depth in all of Major League Baseball. The veteran starting rotation currently boasts Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield, Brad Penny, and John Smoltz. For those of you counting at home, that adds up to six quality starting pitchers. Six pitchers that could probably be No. 3 starters or better on almost any club in the Majors.

Now to be fair, both Penny and Smoltz come with major questions marks because of their health. Smoltz, 41, will only be available for half a season at best, but he could be a major difference maker in a short playoff series – as either a starter or a reliever. Penny won 16 games in both 2006 and 2007. At the age of 30, he still has the chance to regain his old form if his arm does not fall off. All he really needs to do is stay healthy until Smoltz is ready. Together, Penny and Smoltz make a pretty intimidating two-headed monster.

Wakefield, now 42, had his share of injury woes in 2008 thanks to shoulder problems, but he is a great value at just $4 million and throwing the knuckleball takes less toll on his body than other pitches. He should still be good for 10 wins, 150 innings and possibly 100 strikeouts.

Lester made a valiant return from cancer and provided 33 starts in 2008. In his first full season, he compiled 16 wins, 210.1 innings and 152 strikeouts. The 25-year-old southpaw should be even better in 2009 with a year of experience under his belt.

Matsuzaka, 28, is arguably the most talented and most frustrating pitcher on the staff. He has about six pitches in his repertoire, he gets good movement on all of them and he sits around 92 mph with his fastball. Matsuzaka won 18 games in 2008 but the scary thing is that he should have won even more. If he can learn to trust his stuff and stop nibbling, he could win a lot of games in 2009.

Beckett had some injury concerns of his own in 2008 and won just 12 games after racking up 20 in 2007. He should be a good bet for about 200 innings and close to 200 strikeouts. If you’re looking for Fantasy impact, grab Beckett followed by Lester, Matsuzaka, Penny and Wakefield.

The depth that the organzation has is even more impressive given how Boston acquired the six pitchers above. Lester was a home-grown project, having been selected out of high school in the second round of the 2002 draft. Matsuzaka was an international free agent signing out of Japan. Wakefield was rescued off the scrap heap after Pittsburgh (of all places) gave up on him and released him. Beckett was acquired via a trade with Florida (although Boston gave up Hanley Ramirez for him). Penny and Smoltz were then added via free agency. Good clubs find multiple ways to obtain talent; Boston is quite obviously one of them. And Fantasy Baseball owners can reap the rewards in 2009.





Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Justin
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Justin

Matsuzaka had a 4.03 FIP and a 4.46 tRA in 29 starts and he should have won MORE than 18 games? Did I read that right?

alskor
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alskor

The guy did lead the majors in avg against.