On Sept. 1, 2011, the Red Sox had the best record in the American League. On Sept. 1, 2013, the Red Sox had the best record in the American League. But for Boston, which moved up three spots to third in the ESPN Power Rankings this week, the starting rotation's poor work that caused the disastrous 2011 implosion is a thing of the past. This year's rotation is not only just as talented but also deeper.
The depth is the key here. In September 2011, the Red Sox's rotation was running on fumes. Its starting five had pitched well in July and August, but things crashed and burned in September. Like this year, the Red Sox lost Clay Buchholz in June 2011. But unlike this year, Buchholz never pitched again. (Buchholz is expected back later this month and has already made one rehab start.) That forced the team to first hand the ball to Andrew Miller, who quickly proved that he should never be trusted as a starter again -- in his 40 1/3 innings in the rotation in June and July, he struck out 25 and walked 25 and posted a 5.36 ERA.