The New England Patriots have Tom Brady. The Boston Red Sox have their starting rotation.

To the Red Sox, the accomplishments of setting a franchise record in wins and capturing another World Series title in 2019, and the optimism in projecting continued success in the future, is as simple as counting to five.

1: Chris Sale; 2: David Price; 3: Rick Porcello; 4: Nathan Eovaldi; 5: Eduardo Rodriguez.

It’s one of the best (starting rotations), if not the best, one through five,” Manager Alex Cora said this spring. “We’re thinking about how we’re going to split them up, the lefties, how we’re gonna do that, but it’s cool because our lefties are all different – Sale with the fastball and slider, David with location and that change-up, Eduardo stuff-wise is up there with them. Like they like to say, ‘He’s better than us.’ Then you’ve got Rick, hits his spots and uses his four-seamer. Stuff-wise, Nate is amazing. It’s cool to have them. It’s cool to have them go out there and just put that name beside the P, go out there, go five, six (innings), that’s a good feeling. That’s a good feeling.”

It’s an old-school mentality, and it still holds true today: great baseball teams start with a great rotation.

“Not a lot of teams even have five starters anymore, with the opener and whatnot, so for us to still have a solid five group of starting guys, that’s rare right now,” said Price. “I’ve been blessed to be on really good staffs ever since I’ve been in the big leagues. And whenever you have five guys that give you that opportunity to win every day, that makes everybody kind of rest easy.”

Last year, the Red Sox were one of three teams to have at least three pitchers with at least 150 innings and a WHIP of 1.18 or lower: Sale, Price and Porcello.

Only the Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians could tout a rotation as deep and consistent. The Indians had four starters that matched those numbers.

Eovaldi would’ve counted as the Boston’s fourth had he thrown enough innings. And Rodriguez was close, with a 1.27 WHIP in 130 innings.

“It gives you comfort,” Cora said. “You go back to last year, with (Hector Velazquez and Brian Johnson), I never felt that one game that I was like, ‘we don’t have a chance and we need to score a lot for us to stay in the game.’ It felt like whoever was on the mound was going to give you six and a chance to win.

“We’re one of the lucky ones around the league. I hate talking about other teams. But Houston last year, they felt that way. Washington. It’s a luxury. They can be aces in any other rotation. They’re all together. If you’re in a losing streak, it feels like it’ll be stopped that day, and a winning streak feels like it’ll continue.”

Projecting what might happen in 2019, it’s reasonable to expect this rotation to be even better.

Sure, there are some injury concerns. Will Sale’s shoulder hold up? Is Eovaldi’s second Tommy John surgery going to keep him healthy for a full season? Is Rodriguez finally over the knee injuries that have plagued him?

But the same health questions could be asked of most starting rotations.

What makes the Red Sox different is the talent matched with experience.

Sale, who turns 30 on Saturday, is on a Hall of Fame track, and the Sox have seen him lower his ERA almost a half-run since joining them from Chicago.

Price, 33, has taken a more indirect path to greatness in Boston, suffering through some elbow concerns and two rocky seasons before putting it all together last year. From May 12 through October, Price threw 165 innings with a 3.22 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP.

“He made some adjustments in the season,” Cora said. “I think it started in Kansas City (on July 7). Although the results weren’t great, I think he hit a few guys, but you could see the effort of making adjustments. ‘

“For these guys to keep dominating on a big league level, they have to make adjustments. You see it with CC Sabathia, with Justin Verlander. You see it with David. They were special when throwing the way they were throwing. For them to still dominate, it’s a test of who they are.”

Porcello, 30, has quietly been the rock of the staff since he arrived in the Yoenis Cespedes trade before the 2015 season. His 1.23 WHIP in his four seasons in Boston ranks him 18th among qualified major leaguers in that span, just behind Dallas Keuchel, Jon Lester and J.A. Happ.

Eovaldi, 31, has never had a full season of brilliance, only moments. But the Red Sox were so floored with his combination of a triple-digit-fastball, cutter and slider after trading for him last season that they gave him a new $68 million contract over four years to see if he could put it all together.

“We reflected on (Eovaldi’s postseason performance) for a while,” Price said. “We were all blown away by his ability to come back on short rest, going through the injuries that he’s been through, and just his overall stuff.”

Rodriguez, 25, is the kid brother of the staff. His career 1.28 WHIP while racking up one strikeout per inning has been solid, but the Red Sox think there’s more in a left arm that can throw in the mid-90s and has one of the game’s best change-ups. He reinvented his slider this offseason and was the most hyped player in camp this spring.

“They want him to be great,” Cora said of the other four starters. “They see it. At one point in their careers, Sale and Price were that guy. They’re hard on him because they know how talented he is.”

The whole staff is loaded with talent.

And it’s why the Red Sox are once again the favorites in the American League.

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