Red Sox rotation loaded with questions

Clay Buchholz, left, and Jon Lester, shown in 2012 spring training, will be looked in again as two pillars of the Red Sox starting rotation in 2013.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Clay Buchholz, left, and Jon Lester, shown in 2012 spring training, will be looked in again as two pillars of the Red Sox starting rotation in 2013.

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.

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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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