Ryan Dempster will sit out the 2014 season

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Ryan Dempster posted a disappointing 4.57 ERA in 171 1/3 innings last summer for the Red Sox and did not get a postseason start, but he was still expected to open the 2014 campaign in Boston’s rotation.

That is no longer going to happen.

According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the veteran right-hander announced Sunday that he will not pitch this season due to “physical reasons and his desire to spend more time with his kids.”

“I don’t feel like I am capable of performing to the ability and standard that I am accustomed to,” Dempster told Rosenthal. “I feel it’s in the best interest of both the club but most importantly myself to step away from playing baseball at this time. The time is right. I’m not saying retirement but I definitely won’t be playing this season.”

Dempster signed a two-year, $26.5 million free agent contract with the Red Sox last winter. He’ll be placed on the restricted list and won’t get the $13.25 million salary that he stood to earn in 2014. With that savings, the Red Sox front office could get more active on the open market — they’re known to have some interest in re-signing shortstop Stephen Drew.

Boston’s rotation this season will likely be Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Jake Peavy, and Felix Doubront. Though it should be noted that Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana remain unsigned.

The Red Sox start is ridiculous

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The red-hot Red Sox completed a sweep of the previously red-hot Angels last night, outscoring them 27-3 in their three-game series. Last night’s game was, relatively speaking, a close one, with the Sox winning “only” by six runs. They did manage to strike out Shohei Ohtani three times, though, so some style points help make up for the “squeaker.” Also worth noting that they held Mike Trout of all people to a 3-for-11 line in their three-game series. He did not score a single time and drove in no runs.

That series win puts the Sox at 16-2 on the year. They dropped their Opening Day game to the Rays, but then won their next six games against Tampa Bay, which I’d say makes up for it. In between those two series they swept a two-game series from the Marlins and afterwards they took two of three from the Yankees and three in a row from the Orioles. The only thing that even threatened to slow this juggernaut down is the weather, resulting in a postponement of Monday morning’s Patriot’s Day game. Somewhere in here we should notice that they’re doing this with their starting shortstop and starting second baseman on the disabled list.

As we’ve noted many times, their 16-2 record is the best start in the Red Sox’ 118-year history. It’s also the best start for any team since the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers began 17-1 (let us just forget, for the time being, that those Brewers lost 18 of 20 in May of that year). They are the fourth team since 1961 to win 16 of its first 18 games.

The Sox aren’t simply getting lucky here. They’ve scored 116 runs and have allowed only 50, which is a Pythagorean record of 15-3. They lead all of baseball in offense, scoring 6.44 runs a game, leading individually in average, on-base percentage and slugging. They are only three one hundredths of a run behind the Astros from leading all of baseball in pitching, allowing only 2.78 runs a game. They’re winning all of these games because, in the early going, they’ve simply been that dang much better than everyone they’ve played.

No, the Sox are not going to go 144-18, as they are currently on pace to do. Yes, they are going to find a lot more trouble in their schedule once they play the Orioles, Rays and Marlins less, play a healthier Yankees team more and face off against the Astros, the Blue Jays, the Indians, the Twins and some tougher interleague opponents. This is baseball, obviously, and no one makes it through a season without rough patches, long, short and numerous.

Still: this has been one whale of a start for Boston. Those wins are in the bank. It’s been quite the thing to see.