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March 31, 2013

If Farrell can rebuild rotation, Sox can rebound

The Sox ranked 27th in ERA (4.70) in the majors last year. That type of mediocrity contributed significantly to their three-year playoff drought.

Look at the Tampa Bay Rays. They are a front-runner to win one of the two Wild Cards certainly not because of their offense (.240 average last year, 27th in baseball). But they were first in ERA (3.19).

If you can pitch, you have a chance. It’s as simple as that.

Tampa has been the standard in recent years. The Rays have had a revolving door as far as starting pitching goes. If they lose a good starter via trade or free agency, they have another capable prospect in the minors ready to do an equal or better job.

For the Sox to turn things around, they need Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz to pitch 10 times better than last year and they must build that revolving door like Tampa.

New manager John Farrell is the right man for the job.

When Farrell was pitching coach from 2007-10, Boston led the AL in opponent batting average (.254) and strikeouts (4,771) and was third in ERA (4.11).

Red Sox starters this spring have been terrific under Farrell and new pitching coach Juan Nieves.

Lester had a terrible 2012 with a career-worst 4.82 ERA and just nine wins in 33 starts after posting 15 or more wins each of the previous four seasons. But he has been awesome this spring and will start tomorrow (1:05 p.m.) in the opener at Yankee Stadium.

“I think what Jon has done, he’s gotten back to a delivery that has been similar to his in the past,” Farrell told reporters Wednesday. “I think he’s executing pitches with the consistency we’ve seen before, which made him one of the top left-handers in the game.”

Lester hurled 24.0 innings this spring, allowing just two earned runs (0.75 ERA) with eight hits, four walks and 20 strikeouts.

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