Tim Wakefield expects to start

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The Red Sox have John Lackey, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Clay Buchholz, but Tim Wakefield says one of them is going to have to take a back seat to him

“I’ve been right back on track with
my normal offseason routine and I don’t feel like there’s going to be
any setbacks, so I plan on being one of the five starters.”

I’m sure someone in the crowded Boston media landscape will try to turn this into a controversy of some kind (“Wakefield: TAKE A BACK SEAT, BECKETT!”) but such a thing would be silly. For one thing, Wakefield is a knuckleballer, and knuckleballers are totally awesome, so what should really happen is that Beckett, Lackey and Lester should be turned into mop-up men and Wakefield should get something like 54 starts. There. Controversy averted.

Only slightly more likely is that one of the six starters will get hurt or be ineffective at some point this year, rendering the notion that the Sox have a surplus of starters quaint.  Remember last year when the Red Sox allegedly had seven Major League-ready starters to open the season?  Somewhere along the line that turned into Paul Byrd, Junichi Tazawa and Michael Bowden being pressed into service, so I’m assuming that Wakefield will get plenty of starts in 2010 by simply hanging around.

Once again, Cy Young votes from the Tampa Bay chapter were interesting

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In 2016, Red Sox starter Rick Porcello narrowly and controversially eked ahead of then-Tigers starter Justin Verlander in Cy Young Award balloting, winning on points 137 to 132. Verlander was not included at all in the top-five of two ballots, both coincidentally belonging to writers from the Tampa Bay chapter, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain and Fred Goodall of the Associated Press. Verlander had more first-place votes than Porcello, but being left out of the top-five on two ballots was the difference maker.

In the aftermath, Verlander’s then-fiancée Kate Upton fired off some angry tweets, as did Justin’s brother Ben.

Verlander was again in the running for the 2018 AL Cy Young Award. He again finished in second place, this time behind Blake Snell of the Rays. Snell had 17 first-place votes and 169 total points to Verlander’s 13 and 154. There weren’t any ballots that made a big difference like in 2016, but there were two odd ballots from the Tampa Bay chapter again.

If a chapter doesn’t have enough eligible voters, a voter from another chapter is chosen to represent that city. This year, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News was a replacement voter along with Mark Didtler, a freelancer for the Associated Press. Both writers voted for Snell in first place, reasonably. But neither writer put Verlander second, less reasonably, putting Corey Kluber there instead. Madden actually had Verlander fourth behind Athletics reliever Blake Treinen. Didtler had Treinen in fifth place. Two other writers had Verlander in third place: George A. King III of the New York Post and Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The other 26 had Verlander in first or second place.

Voting Kluber ahead of Verlander doesn’t make any sense, especially we finally live in a world where a pitcher’s win-loss record isn’t valued highly. Kluber had 20 wins to Verlander’s 16 and pitched one more inning. In every other area, Verlander was better. ERA? Verlander led 2.52 to 2.89. Strikeouts? Verlander led 290 to 222. Strikeout rate? Verlander led 34.8% to 26.4%. Opponent batting average? Verlander led .198 to .222. FIP and xFIP? Verlander led both 2.78 and 3.03 to 3.12 and 3.08, respectively. And while Treinen had an excellent year, Verlander pitched 134 more innings, which is significant.

Upton had another tweet for the occasion: