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Wednesday, May 27, 2009
John Smoltz: No. 7 starter


Remember John Smoltz? Well, he's on a schedule ...
 Smoltz
OK, two things here:

1. They let the pitcher throw whichever balls he chooses? I suppose there might be some rule about major leaguers on rehab assignments, but this is certainly the first I've heard of such a thing.

2. In addition to asking Smoltz, "When you going to be there?" someone might ask the Red Sox, "Where does he fit into the rotation?"

Right now, the Red Sox are set in three spots with Tim Wakefield, Josh Beckett, and Jon Lester. They're paying Daisuke Matsuzaka $8 million this season, and he looked pretty good last Friday in his first start since coming off the DL. And Brad Penny's 5-1 despite a 5.96 ERA (and a nondescript strikeout rate).

Obviously, Penny's the first to go. But should Smoltz be the first to come? Monday, Clay Buchholz very nearly threw a perfect game in the International League. In 25 career Triple-A starts, he's got a 2.49 ERA and 147 strikeouts in 130 innings. I'm not sure it's a stretch to suggest that he might be the third-best starter in the entire organization (behind only Beckett and Lester).

The Red Sox knew during spring training that they might wind up with six or seven good starters. They figured they might need six or seven, at some point. And so they have. But what happens if all six or seven are healthy and available at the same time? It's quite possible that we'll find out in a few weeks.