Sox Need Pitching Help

Coming into the season, most pundits predicted that the Red Sox lineup would produce enough runs to keep the team in contention, which it has. Most analysts also expected that Boston’s pitching staff, specifically the starting rotation, would be a problem, and in that regard they were also correct. Many anticipated Dave Dombrowski dealing prospects to upgrade their pitching at the deadline, which he seems likely to do. Because the Red Sox need pitching help, and they need it now.

With Boston fading fast, Dombrowski can’t afford to wait another month before bolstering the staffSox Need Pitching Help. The Red Sox are 9-14 in June with a minus-12 run differential. They’ve gone from three games up on the AL East at the start of June to four games out of first in under four weeks. Boston’s offense has cooled considerably, but that’s less worrisome because lineups typically rise and fall over the course of the season. Barring serious injuries, that lineup will be fine.

The same can not be said, however, of Boston’s pitching staff. The rotation has been a mess, particularly at the back end. David Price has not been up to snuff. Joe Kelly and Clay Buchholz have bombed. Rick Porcello has been hot and cold. John Farrell has exhausted all his options for the last two rotation spots with middling results.

With none of the young Red Sox starters proving ready to contribute, Dombrowski must seek pitching help outside the organization. Several big-names will likely be available, including Sonny Gray and Julio Teheran, but would require bundles of prospects to acquire. Boston must stabilize its rotation, however, and it’s worth trading a few kids now to avoid relying on Sean O’Sullivan and Henry Owens down the stretch.

The bullpen could also use reinforcements, as reliable options for high leverage situations are lacking. There’s Craig Kimbrel, obviously, and Junichi Tazawa, but that’s pretty much it. Carson Smith’s done for the year and Koji Uehara is finally showing his age. Boston needs another power arm to strengthen the bridge to Kimbrel. Relievers are always plentiful near the deadline, so acquiring one shouldn’t be too difficult.

So even though the trade deadline is still more than a month away, Boston shouldn’t wait. The Red Sox need pitching help now. If they wait, it might be too late.

Henry Owens Is Not Major League Ready

The hype Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Henry Owens received when making his major league debut last season at Yankee Stadium was not fair to him and very unwarranted. Still young at 23 years old, Owens’ ceiling is that of a number four starter, more likely a number five. Many may be curious as to why this is and how he’s been getting hit so hard thus far in his major league career. Owens is not good enough to start at this level, at least not yet.

Henry Owens: Another Left Handed Pitching Specialist?

Left handed pitchers are seen as a more valuable commodity in baseball. The reason forHenry Owens this is because being left handed is more of a rarity than being right handed. Most major league players are righty and having a left handed pitcher to throw out there is a nice change of pace. A pitch coming from a lefty is seen differently by a hitter than one coming from a righty. This is especially true when a left handed pitcher faces a left handed batter. With all of this in mind, some may think Owens has an advantage over other major league hopeful starting pitchers. He does have an edge on right handed pitchers with big league hopes because of this and is likely to be given a more extended look at this level. However, up to this point in his career, Owens has been nothing but a let down.

Last year, Owens had a 4.57 ERA in 63 innings, his first taste of the big leagues. That is a small sample size to judge a starting pitcher off of. Adding this season’s totals to that, he still only has 72.1 innings under his belt. Typically I am not one to judge a pitcher with such a small sample size but Owens has shown me enough to point out why he cannot succeed right now and what he must do to make it work at this level.

Owens relies primarily on his plus change-up in order to set up his fastball. His fastball is easily hit, throwing 88-92 mph and leaving the pitch in spots where major league hitters will destroy it. Owens change-up has been said to be his strong pitch and at times it shows. The only problem with his change-up is that he cannot locate it. Because of this, hitting his fastball is that much easier.

I’ve always compared him to a cheap man’s Francisco Liriano if he reaches his potential. Both pitchers struggle with command and work with similar pitchers. The main two differences between the two is that Liriano throws harder and incorporates a slider as a third pitch rather than the curve ball that Owens has added. Also, left handed batters fear Liriano, something that they don’t with Owens. Left handed hitters hit .293 against Owens last season. This season has been no different as they are hitting .300 off of him. The lefty on lefty match up typically favors left handed pitchers but Owens hasn’t figured that out.

Henry Owens: What does Owens have to do to improve?

Owens has been painful to watch as a major league pitcher. While I do not see him being anything more than a fourth starter, he could get better if he works on and improves a couple things quickly. He must figure out a third pitch to incorporate. He has added a curve ball but is very hesitant to throw it. A pitcher cannot survive throwing just two pitches, unless one is a knuckleball. He also must command his pitches much better than he does right now. If one cannot locate, they will not last long at this level. Hopefully Owens figures it out. I am definitely rooting for him but don’t hold your breath waiting for this guy to live up to the hype he was wrongly given, it will never happen.

Eduardo Rodriguez Adds to South Paw Power

A collective gasp shot through Red Sox Nation last week when it was announced that Eduardo Rodriguez would be starting the 2016 season on the disabled list. Eduardo Rodriguez adds a strong balance to a pitching rotation that has the potential to bring another championship to Boston this year. His latest injury, however, worries many. Rodriguez dislocated his right knee cap on February 27th, leading many to wonder if the southpaw would be ready to pitch at all for Boston in 2016. While Rodriguez said he feltEduardo Rodriguez adds fine after some practice throws last Wednesday, Red Sox manager John Farrell wants to make sure he’s healthy before taking the mound again. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

I’m thankful that Rodriguez’s injury isn’t too bad because he’s going to be a key player in the Red Sox rotation this season. After going 10-6 with a 3.85 ERA in 2015, Rodriguez became the first Red Sox rookie southpaw to win at least 10 games; John Curtis won 11 games in 1972. What I’m particularly excited about is that Rodriguez is young and will have plenty of time to develop for the Red Sox. I’m excited about Rodriguez’s potential after posting strong numbers during his rookie year.

On a larger level, the Red Sox are already in a strong position pitching-wise this upcoming season. They’ll have four left-handed pitchers on their rotation this season. With David Price as the Red Sox ace, followed by Henry Owens and Wade Miley, Eduardo Rodriguez adds extra defense for the team. The southpaws will be needed to keep opposing batters in check while David Ortiz, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Travis Shaw add their offensive power. This number of southpaws will also be important because it’ll make it harder for the teams that repeatedly beat the Red Sox last season to do the same this season. Although the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays beat the Red Sox 11 and 10 times last season, respectively, their hitters struggled more against left-handed pitchers than right-handed ones. While those teams were not playoff contenders, beating them this season with our southpaw-dominant pitching rotation will give the Red Sox more wins, making them a stronger threat in the American League.

I’m lucky that my season tickets are on the first base line. It’ll give me a better view of Rodriguez when he takes the mound for Boston this season.

Patience Is Key With Red Sox Young Players

The final month of the Red Sox season is upon us and if the Red Sox go 27-0 down the stretch they would finish with 92 wins, good enough for a Wild Card right? Well no one expects that to happen so for the final month the Red Sox will be looking to two things. How their younger players continue to play and the chase of David Ortiz’s 500th home run.

With the young outfield of Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. continuing to show what they are capable of the Red Sox have to be happy with what theyYoung Players are seeing. Down the stretch all three expect to get time in all three outfield positions to help figure out what is the best alignment for the BBC. Castillo has been playing left field for about a week now and has not had any Hanley Ramirez moments yet and likely will not. Betts has played center field for every appearance so far this season, but has been working in left and right the last few weeks and will likely appear in a game on the corners soon. Bradley Jr.’s defense is something that will keep him in the big leagues, but his hitting of late has kept him in the lineup after an extended stay in Pawtucket early on this season. His arm I believe is something that has him fit for right field in Fenway Park. Shane Victorino who was a center fielder for most of his career, excelled in moving to the spacious right field in Fenway.

The pitching staff is something that has handcuffed the Red Sox all season long. Eduardo Rodriguez has looked like someone who will be at the top of the rotation for the Red Sox rotation next season, of course likely below an ace they expect to acquire this off-season. Henry Owens has looked good at times, kept down his walks that he struggled with in minors this year but has had some stinkers against teams with good offenses. Both are players who started the year in Pawtucket and will be likely skipped a few times down the stretch because of an innings limit the Red Sox are looking to adhere to, but not quite a Mets Matt Harvey situation because obviously the Red Sox are not in playoff contention.

The slumps and forgetfulness of young players is something that is all over the game. Patience is something the Red Sox have not had with young players as of late as they tried to win at all costs and not allow players battle through adjusting to the big leagues. The Royals and Astros are examples of players coming up together through the system and go through the slumps together and learn how to win together with a core.

Veterans are important to every team and the Red Sox have David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia but the next great Red Sox team will likely come together and learn some lessons this September.

Eduardo Rodriguez Innings Limit Near

Eduardo Rodriguez has a bright future with the Red Sox and clearly the team knows this. Rodriguez will skip his next start because he has thrown 140.2 innings between Triple-A Pawtucket and the Boston Red Sox this season, only 4.1 innings of his career high in a season of 145, according to NESN.

The Red Sox are being smart here—the last thing the team needs is a potential top-of- Eduardo Rodriguezthe-rotation starter throwing out his arm and going in for Tommy John Surgery before he even has a chance to reach his full potential. One bad injury could mess up his whole career, which would be unfortunate for both Eduardo Rodriguez and the Red Sox organization. Torey Lovullo told NESN that he’s going to keep an eye on Rodriguez, as well as Henry Owens, since the team doesn’t want to put either guy in harms way.

Eduardo Rodriguez has a 7-5 record and a 4.39 ERA in 16 big league starts. He’s had his ups and downs as a major leaguer, but he has shown flashes of what he can bring to the table. When he’s on, he mixes up his pitches well—like he did in his debut against the Texas Rangers back in May. He has also been roughed up a few times, like in the game against the Miami Marlins a few weeks ago when he gave up 8 runs.

Overall, though, I’ve liked what I’ve seen from him, and I like the move to limit his innings and save him for next season. The team has nothing to play for and absolutely no reason to push him harder than necessary. If they over-extend him, it’ll leave me wondering “Why did they need to do that?” If they push him needlessly, it’ll derail the career of a promising talent for a year for nothing. The team has a pretty big sample size already to look at and analyze, so I would say let him go out there once or twice, then shut him down after that. But, I’m not a general manager or a manager, so my opinion won’t matter to the guys who will eventually have to make the decision. If anyone from the Red Sox management does happen to read this, do the right thing. Don’t push Rodriguez any more than necessary this year, please.

Henry Owens to Stay in Rotation

Henry Owens was (mostly) not at fault after Tuesday’s blowout 13-3 loss to the New York Yankees. He left after 5+ solid innings with runners on 2nd and 3rd, 0 outs, and a 2-1 lead. The implosion that followed was largely a result of bad bullpen work, starting with Robbie Ross and going downhill from there.

At one point, Owens had set down 12 in a row after struggling in the first inning, when he Henry Owensthrew 34 pitches. He ended up throwing 96 pitches and striking out 5, and secured his place in the rotation for the time being according. Part of it was the flashes of promise he showed, but most of it was due to the team’s circumstances—both Clay Buchholz and Rick Porcello are on the DL, so Henry Owens will have a shot to show more of what he can do.

John Farrell came away from Henry Owens’ start with good things to say as well, telling the Boston Globe that Henry Owens seemed to keep the emotion of the moment in check and made some quality pitches. To Owens’ credit, Farrell is correct in his assessment in this case. The pressure of a playoff race may be off, but making your major league debut against the Yankees in New York is always a tough task and Henry Owens handled it pretty well.

I was personally pretty happy with what I saw from Henry Owens, as he did show that he had pretty promising stuff. His change up looked pretty good at times and he mixed it in well with his fastball. He also did well to pitch out of a tough first inning and limit the damage, and to settle in after that tough first inning. He showed us a good glimpse of things to come. I’m not going to go so far as to say he’s the team’s savior, but he’s one of the Red Sox top prospects for a reason, and he showed us why.

He joins Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson as the 3rd lefty to make his major league debut this season. Nowhere to go but up from here.