Spring training preview: Starting pitchers

First in a series of spring training roster breakdowns coming this week. Tuesday: Relievers. Wednesday: Infielders. Thursday: Outfielders. Friday: Catchers and DHs.

As the Red Sox prepare for spring training, here is a look at their starting pitchers:

Expected rotation: RHP Clay Buchholz, LHP Jon Lester, RHP Ryan Dempster, LHP Felix Doubront, RHP John Lackey.

In the mix: RHP Alfredo Aceves, LHP Franklin Morales.

Prospects of note: RHP Rubby De La Rosa, RHP Allen Webster, LHP Drake Britton, RHP Steven Wright, RHP Brandon Workman, LHP Chris Hernandez, RHP Anthony Ranaudo, RHP Matt Barnes.

Organizational depth: RHP Graham Godfrey, RHP Terry Doyle.


Breakdown: Barring injury, Buchholz, Lester, Dempster, Doubront, and Lackey will likely be the rotation in some order to start the season. Dempster was signed as a free agent and Lackey missed 2012 after recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Sox also have some promising starters in Pawtucket and Portland for a change. De La Rosa could force himself into the picture.

What’s good: Buchholz and Lester should be better with John Farrell as their manager and a pitching coach in Juan Nieves who won’t be afraid to actually coach them. … Dempster has averaged just under 200 innings over the last five years. … Doubront averaged 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings in his first year as a starter. … Lackey pitched much of 2011 with an injured elbow. Now healthy, he figures to be an upgrade to the likes of Aaron Cook and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

What’s bad: Lester averaged 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings in 2009 That mark has dropped every year since, down to 7.3 last season. … Doubront was pushed to 161 innings last season, by the far the most of his career. His health bears watching. … Dempster has been a National League pitcher most of his career. His 5.09 ERA in 12 starts for the Rangers last season isn’t a good sign. … Lackey has a 5.26 ERA in 61 starts since coming to the Sox.


Theme song: “Don’t Look Back” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

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