by Jill Seward/NESN:
The Red Sox' rotation has seen its fair share of struggles to start the season, but as the Sox begin to pull away from their early slump, the starting pitchers have shown off their strengths.
Last year, the Sox were led by two American League Cy Young candidates in Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester. Buchholz led the team with an overall ERA of 2.33, but which starter will lead Boston in ERA this season?
Josh Beckett has gotten off to the hottest start in the Red Sox' rotation, leading the pitching staff with a 1.80 ERA through three starts. After a disappointing 2010, it's a great sign to see Beckett back on the mound throwing like we've seen in his dominant years, but can he keep it up for the entire season?
Though he struggled in his Opening Day outing, lefty Jon Lester has been stable for the Sox ever since. He picked up a loss in his second start, but that was after throwing a solid seven innings in a pitcher's duel with Indians' starter Fausto Carmona. Lester has been the Red Sox go-to ace over the past two seasons, and should be able to continue that dominance from the mound this season as well.
Buchholz's success from last season didn't exactly roll over into the start of 2011, but the Red Sox' righty has shown too much potential in the past to stay down for long. Plus, a recent extension should compel Buchholz to come through for the Red Sox and prove that he's worth the solid chunk of change.
Daisuke Matsuzaka has been a question mark in the Sox' rotation for quite some time, but on Patriots' Day, the No. 5 starter threw seven incredible innings, allowing just one hit and one walk in 89 pitches. His consistency is still up in the air, but after Monday's performance, Matsuzaka has proven he can still dominate from the mound.
John Lackey has struggled to find his stride in the regular season, as he posts a high 15.58 ERA, but hopefully the recent rest will help him figure out what's going wrong with his approach.
Could this be the year of Beckett's resurgence, or will Lester and Buchholz dominate the statistics again? Only time will tell.