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The Red Sox have rotation decisions to make

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Thursday’s Say Hey, Baseball includes Boston’s stacked rotation, updates on Yordano Ventura, and the Angels’ successful-ish offseason.

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images

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Eduardo Rodriguez had a tough start to 2016 thanks to a spring training knee injury that wrecked his mechanics. When he returned from the disabled list and minors for good after the All-Star break, he did what had initially been expected of him and built off of the promise that his rookie campaign in 2015 showed: Rodriguez threw 77-2/3 innings over 14 starts with a 3.24 ERA — nearly a full run better than the AL average — while managing over a strikeout per inning and nearly three times as many strikeouts as walks. Rodriguez is probably going to start 2017 in Triple-A.

The Red Sox traded for Chris Sale to add to a rotation that already featured David Price and last year’s AL Cy Young winner, Rick Porcello. They dealt Anderson Espinoza for Drew Pomeranz, who, if he’s past his late-season fatigue from his first full year as a starter, could be way overqualified to be a fourth (or even a third) starter. Then there is Steven Wright, who missed the latter portion of 2016 due to a shoulder injury that occurred while pinch-running. Before that, Wright had made the All-Star team and finished the year with a 3.33 ERA that brought his career ERA+ to 124. Rodriguez is as qualified as the rest, but he has options left, so he’s the one that can be shuttled off to Triple-A if there is no room in the big-league rotation come Opening Day.

The Red Sox already traded Clay Buchholz to shorten the line for Rodriguez, and it wasn’t an enormous risk since Roenis Elias and Brian Johnson are both still in the Triple-A rotation. Rodriguez might get his chance sooner than later, too, given Pomeranz could turn out to be a reliever after all, Wright might suffer in hotter weather again, or someone could end up hurt before the season even begins. Rodriguez in Triple-A is a good problem to have, and you want to have that extra pitching depth, but it does sort of feel like the Red Sox are wasting an arm with a ton of potential by sticking him in the minors to start the year. It might be the best answer they have, though, in order to maintain depth for the longest time, and over a 162-game season, that’s more necessity than luxury.