The Red Sox are coming off a rare stretch during the long MLB season of just 5 games in 8 days. This light span allowed John Farrell to continue his 4-man rotation and not think about who should be their 5th starter going forward. With 16 straight games beginning today and no off-day until June 30, the Red Sox are forced into determining who should join the rotation going forward. Based on John Farrell’s comments on Sunday, I think he is approaching this situation all wrong.
“One of the things that we’ll factor in is we would look to match up as best as possible,” Farrell said. “On one series, is it a left-hander? The other series is it a right-hander? And we’ve got the flexibility to do that.”
It is a mistake to treat the 5th starter role with flexibility and base decisions on certain match-ups and here’s why…
Two of the names likely being considered for the call-up are Roenis Elias and Henry Owens. Elias has looked strong as of late, allowing 2 or fewer earned runs in 4 of his last 5 starts. In those 4 starts, he pitched at least 7 innings, including a complete game effort on June 5. He deserves a serious look. Owens has struggled a bit this year, but seems to be improving despite only completing more than 6 innings once in 10 starts with Pawtucket this year.
By bringing up Elias or Owens for one start and then sending him back down, you aren’t allowing him to settle in to the routine and get comfortable with the team. There is immense pressure on that 1 outing, with the knowledge that they are likely done in the majors when they walk off the mound regardless of performance. The revolving door is a mistake. Bring up one of these guys and give them 3 or 4 consecutive starts to prove their worth. Let them settle into the team, the routine, the travel and give them a chance to spend time between starts with Carl Willis and the MLB staff. If you really want to develop these young players, give them a fair chance at proving their worth.
The other option for the 5th starter role is Clay Buchholz. All I will say is no. He is terrible and should be back down in the minors, not in the bullpen. If Farrell choose Buchholz to start, he deserves to lose his job immediately.
My hope is that we see Roenis Elias for an extended period of time. He has proven his worth in AAA, has big league experience and has earned the right to prove himself with the Red Sox. In reality, I think Farrell is going to use guys as spot starters and miss a great opportunity.