What Happens in the Boston Red Sox Rotation?

Eduardo Rodriguez landed on the 15-day DL right before the season with subluxation of his patellar tendon in his right knee and has already made two rehab starts. He is due to start one more after throwing 84 pitches in his last outing, which lasted six innings with justRed Sox Rotation three earned runs (all in the first inning) with three strikeouts. The 23-year-old retired 16 of the final 18 batters he faced and will have one last start May 8th before potentially returning to the Boston Red Sox rotation on May 13th.

The all but expected conclusion is that Rodriguez will take the spot of Henry Owens in the rotation due to the fact that Owens has struggled in two of his outing with his pitch count. In his first start, the youngster lasted just 3.1 innings with four walks and four strikeouts in a no-decision. After a five-inning no-decision against the New York Yankees, the 23-year-old went just three innings while walking six and allowing two runs against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday. Owens has been lackluster since is major league debut in 2015 and the 88 MPH fastball seems to not be cutting it against the tougher lineups of the majors.

With Rodriguez slotted to take the one real question mark of the Boston Red Sox rotation, what will happen when Joe Kelly returns?

Is Joe Kelly Out of the Red Sox Rotation?

Kelly had an encouraging bullpen session on Tuesday and looks to have a rehab outing on Friday, May 6th, at Triple-A Pawtucket. John Farrell expects him to make two rehab starts, but that does not mean he will be ready to go right after those two outings. If he is healthy and his shoulder responds well after both appearances, then Kelly could be back in the thick of things in the Red Sox rotation.

However, the only other spot the Red Sox can even take a look at is the up-and-down veteran Clay Buchholz. Buchholz had pitched poorly up until the seven inning performance with just a two-run homer in the first inning off the bat of Jose Abreu blemishing the outing. The 31-year-old’s ERA dropped from 6.51 to 5.71 with the outing and this start could be the start of one of one of those ones Buchholz gets on before he gets hurt. Last season, he went through a 12-start stretch with a an ERA just above 2.00 before getting hurt.

My suggestion is to keep Buchholz in the rotation to build his value and trade him before that inevitable injury that derails his trade value and his time with the Red Sox. This leaves Kelly the odd man out of the rotation, but the Red Sox could use him as an arm out of the bullpen. The bullpen depth has already increased with the return of Carson Smith and Kelly is another electric arm to use as a middle reliever if the Red Sox starters fail to make it through six innings on any given night.

Henry Owens, Brian Johnson Soon to Join Rotation

Prior to a third straight pitching debacle against the Chicago White Sox, manager John Farrell just casually mentioned to the media that both Brian Johnson and Henry Owens should get the call in the next week. These starters are ranked No. 4 and No. 5 respectively overall in the Boston Red Sox farm system

“We’re going to stay on turn through the weekend,” Farrell said according to NESN’s Ricky Brian Johnsondoyle. “Monday being the off-day, we’ve got the ability to adjust going forward. But as we’re taking a look at (recently recalled outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.), our goal and our intent is to see Brian Johnson and probably Henry Owens at some point. So, all that is on the horizon.”

With pitchers Joe Kelly (2-6, 5.94 ERA), Justin Masterson (4-2, 5.62 ERA) and Rick Porcello (5-11, 5.81 ERA) struggling for most of the season and knuckleballer Steve Wright being a 30-year-old journeyman who is more of a spot starter than a long-term option in the rotation, it makes sense to bring up the young pitchers to see if they should be kept or dealt this off season.

Eduardo Rodriguez has proven that he has some work to do, but has pitched admirably while up with the Boston Red Sox this season to the tune of a 4.26 ERA in 11 starts to go along with a 6-3 record and a 52:20 K:BB ratio. The 22-year-old should be in the starting rotation to start the 2016 season

The Red Sox already got a look at Johnson last week as he went 4.1 innings while allowing four earned runs. He may have walked four batters in the outing and thrown more curve balls than fastballs, but the prospect proved he could pitch even with less than stellar stuff on the mound. The fastball topped out at 90 and he can’t blow away anyone, but he showed strong composure for a 24-year-old.

As for Owens, the 23-year-old had a tough go of it to start the 2015 season in Pawtucket, but is 1-4 with a 2.86 ERA over his last 10 starts. Over that span, he has walked just 18 and struck out 54 in 63 innings of work, including a couple nine strikeout contests on July 10th and July 18th in which he allowed three earned runs over 13 innings of work.

The Red Sox need to see which of these lefties will be a mainstay going forward and what better time than now when the team is all but mathematically eliminated from postseason contention.