Pawtucket Pitchers Don’t Offer Much Relief

It’s no secret that the Red Sox pitching staff is struggling. David Price isn’t 100% yet. Drew Pomeranz can’t quite maintain consistency. Rick Porcello can’t win a game. Chris Sale is the only one who’s dominating opposing pitchers. Unfortunately, AAA Pawtucket pitchers don’t offer the Boston Red Sox much in terms of relief.

Henry Owens Continues To Struggle

Henry Owens signed with the Red Sox as a 1st round draft pick (36th overall) in 2011.pawtucket pitchers Many touted him as an eventual addition to the Red Sox rotation but his performance in Boston has been anything but promising. In 16 MLB game starts between 2015 and 2016 Owens is 4-6 with a 5.19 ERA. For now Owens is a mainstay in Pawtucket where he has a  4-4 record with a 3.72 ERA as of June 17th. Owens’ main problem continues to be his control. Unfortunately, unless we see some dramatic improvement, Owens likely won’t make it to the majors anytime soon.

Noe Ramirez Is Questionable

Noe Ramirez signed with the Red Sox in 2011 in the fourth round (142nd overall). While he’s currently 3-2 in Pawtucket as of June 18th, his MLB debut keeps many doubtful about his future. He made his debut with the Red Sox in July of 2015 and pitched an inning of relief. His debut proved disastrous. Ramirez allowed four runs (one unearned) on three hits, hit a batter, and struck out one while picking up the loss. Not exactly a debut that strikes confidence.

Brandon Workman’s 2014 Record Still Haunts Him

Brandon Workman has a 3-1 record with Pawtucket so far this season. Workman pitched well in 2013 finished with a 6-3 record including a perfect 8th inning in Game 6 of the 2013 World Series. 2014 was another story. Not only did he finish with a 1-10 record for a .091 winning percentage, but he received a six game suspension for throwing behind the Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria. A 7-13 MLB record with a suspension under his belt doesn’t make it likely he’ll move up to Boston anytime soon.

Pawtucket Hitters Don’t Offer Much Either

While Pawtucket pitchers aren’t a beacon of hope right now, their hitters aren’t faring much better. Blake Swihart, once a promising player, now lingers in Pawtucket with a .210 batting average as of June 17th. Boston once thought they’d make Swihart a staple behind the plate, or even in left field. But Christian Vazquez is playing better. Andrew Benintendi is doing well in left field. This leaves Swihart’s role with the Red Sox in question. Then there’s Rusney Castillo who, after signing a $72.5 million contact, was supposed to be the next big thing in Boston. While he played okay in 2015 with a .253 batting average, he continues to linger in Pawtucket and goes up to Boston for a cup of coffee here and there. Then there’s Allen Craig…

It’s hard to assign 100% of the blame to these players, especially the hitters. Except for 3rd base, Boston has an everyday man with plenty of utility players to plug the holes. But these players will find it difficult to advance if they’re not traded or start playing better, especially the Pawtucket pitchers.

Red Sox’s Number Five Starter Could Be An Issue

With all of the questions surrounding the rotation this year, Red Sox starters have been largely successful. They were, however, dealt a blow when Steven Wright went down for the season last week. Even though Wright’s season was pitiful, he may have been the best option for the Red Sox’s number five starter.

The number five starter role could be a revolving door until David Price returns to the bigRed Sox's number five starter club, that is, if he does this season. Right now, the man filling that void is Kyle Kendrick. That, you might say, isn’t going well. In his two starts, he’s been lit up like a Christmas Tree to the tune of a 12.96 ERA. The gift awaiting him under the tree he lit was a one-way ticket back to Pawtucket Wednesday night.

So now, John Farrell will have to continue to search for the man to round out his starting rotation. Let’s just say his options are thin at that position.

Who is the favorite for the Red Sox’s number five starter?

The only other guy with a decent amount of MLB experience is Henry Owens. Quite frankly, seeing Owens in a Red Sox uniform again may make me vomit. The experiment with him is over, he simply can’t pitch at this level. In 85 innings pitched in the majors, he has 44 walks and a WHIP of over 1.5. Unfortunately, we may see one of those games soon where Owens pitches five innings and walks four in about three hours.

Another option is Brian Johnson. Johnson has only made one start in the majors and it wasn’t pretty. His season in Pawtucket, however, has been great so far. He’s 2-0 with a 2.64 ERA, outdoing Owens in nearly every category with the Paw Sox. With Johnson exuding major league poise in spring training this year, after overcoming severe anxiety in 2016, Johnson is very likely to take that number five spot soon.

Technically, there is another option with MLB experience. If you thought Kyle Kendrick was bad, how about we rewind to Roenis Elias’s brief Red Sox career. Elias was torched by the Mariners in his debut, giving up two runs in his first four pitches and giving up a total of seven in four innings. If Elias is the guy the Red Sox turn to, something is very, very wrong.

So, Brian Johnson seems like the guy. He pitched well in Spring Training and it’s worth a shot to see if he’s better than Owens or Elias. I mean come on, he has to be, right? Right?

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.