Felix Doubront in Bullpen Opens Spot in Rotation

Felix DoubrontWith Clay Buchholz  activated from the DL to start today’s contest against the Seattle Mariners, the Boston Red Sox had some decisions to make and sending Felix Doubront into the bullpen is just step one in a bigger plan this week.

The 26-year-old has not pitched out of the bullpen since the World Series and has been a starter most of his career, including 10 starts before his two perfect innings against Seattle Tuesday. His season ERA is now at 4.99.

The Red Sox had seven starters for five spots and moving Doubront out of the rotation makes it six pitchers for five rotation spots. Rubby De La Rosa and Brandon Workman will likely be fighting for the final spot unless Buchholz throws an absolute stinker in his return.

Both De La Rosa and Workman have been phenomenal this season with a 2.51 and 2.88 ERA respectively. Both pitchers are a little different in their approach on the mound, but both get the job done at the major league level.

The Red Sox bullpen was in need of another left-handed reliever as Craig Breslow, Chris Capuano and Andrew Miller have all had their struggles. Doubront may not be the long-term solution, but he is a solid pitcher to get the job done until he can fix whatever is going on with his velocity and command.

The team does not have much wiggle room as they find themselves eight games below .500 and seven games out of a playoff spot. So, if the 29-year-old does not get the job done, then it might be time to just let the young guys stay in the rotation until they falter. It all starts and ends with Buchholz’ performance on tonight.

Is it time to trade Jake Peavy?

Jake PeavyJake Peavy has only two wins against an American League opponent since joining the Boston Red Sox and is been one of the reasons the team has failed to reach the .500 mark since May.

The veteran right-handed starter is 5-6 in his career for the Red Sox with a 4.38 ERA. Sure, earlier this season he did not get the run support in some of his better pitched games, but enough is enough already.

With seven pitchers for five spots in the starting rotation, the Red Sox need to move some of the less valuable assets in order to keep Brandon Workman and/or Rubby De La Rosa up with the big league ball club. Clay Buchholz should be back Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners and Workman could be back on Friday against the New York Yankees after his six-day suspension ends.

At the end of the season, it doesn’t look as if Peavy is the guy that will stay, unlike Jon Lester and John Lackey who are both solid options to bolster the top half of any rotation. Lackey and Lester still have to negotiate to meet their contract needs, but they are better options than Peavy is right now in his career.

The 33-year-old should be better than a 4.52 ERA with a 1-5 record and maybe a NL team would be interested in acquiring a more veteran presence in the locker room. Specifically, the St. Louis Cardinals just lost a couple starters to injury and could use a fill-in starter until they return.

The Red Sox can’t ask for much and would have to eat a lot of his salary, but any deal for Peavy right now would help solidify a rotation that has been solid for most of the 2014 season.

The right-hander may have trouble seeing the catcher’s signals at times and his animated antics on the mound may be fun to watch, but it is time for the Red Sox to move on and let the younger pitchers start to get more innings under their belt. The future of the Red Sox rotation is at stake here.

Why Rubby De La Rosa Should Be Here To Stay

rubbyOn Monday, Boston Red Sox pitcher Rubby De La Rosa pitched a gem. Going seven strong innings allowing just one hit while walking three and fanning three hitters, De La Rosa got the win— improving his record to 2-2. There was a lack of offensive support despite the strong outing and Boston won the game just 1-0. Boston is the king of losing one run games this year, and would have lost this one if it were not for such a strong outing by the 25-year-old flamethrower. This is why it is clear, at least to this reporter, that Rubby De La Rosa is here to stay for the Boston Red Sox this year.
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On the year, De La Rosa is boasting a 2.84 ERA in four starts for the Boston Red Sox, totaling 25 1/3 innings. His strikeout totals are high at 23 and his walk total is low at just seven, showing signs that Rubby has regained command on all of his pitches. So far this year, De La Rosa has given Boston two spectacular outings and two not-so-good outings. In a pair of outings De La Rosa has thrown seven innings of shutout ball and in the other two, he let up four runs on 5 2/3 innings of work.

Obviously De La Rosa would be a better pitcher if he was more consistent, but those two great outings against Tampa Bay and Minnesota are a glimpse at what Rubby could one day be down the line. Those are weaker teams in contrast to the teams which he struggled against—Detroit and Baltimore, but other pitchers would not perform as well against those stronger clubs either.
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When Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront return from the Disabled List, Boston will need to make some decisions on what to do with the young fire-baller whose fastball regularly approaches 100 mph in games. The way Clay Buchholz pitched in his first rehab start will help the Red Sox buy some time, as he gave up a pair of home runs and three total earned runs on 4 2/3 innings of work for the Paw Sox. Also, keep in mind, De La Rosa is outperforming Workman in the rotation, as Workman has a 3.21 ERA in five starts totaling 28 inning in which he has walked 11 batters while fanning just 21. This may not seem like much of a difference, but the walk totals are high and Workman works better out of the bullpen anyways.

Overall, the Boston Red Sox are in a tough spot, but a great one at the same time. They have a plethora of pitching talent which is great since their only problem is to decide who to keep and who to give the boot. Hopefully Boston will find a way to make it all work so that Rubby and Workman both get to stay in the big leagues, but baseball is as much a game of number crunching as it is a game of anything else and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Rubby De La Rosa Might Be Odd Man Out of Rotation

Rubby De La RosaWith Felix Doubront set to return at some point during the weekend series against the Oakand Athletics, Rubby De La Rosa might be the starter who will be sent back to Pawtucket.

In four starts since coming up with the Boston Red Sox, the 25-year-old is 2-2 with a 2.86 ERA with 14 shutout innings at Fenway Park. He has allowed eight runs in his other 11.1 innings of work on the road because he has had less control of his fastball which helps keep hitters off his change-up and breaking pitches.

Brandon Workman has been more consistent with five starts and a 2.88 ERA. He has allowed just two home runs in 34.1 innings of work compared to three for De La Rosa.

Workman has also been better of late on the road and at home, and has really shown that he can get the job done against almost any opponent.

Doubront has shown great control in the minors through three starts with a 2.63 ERA while walking five and striking out 15 in 13.2 innings of work. Sure, he has yet to win a start, but he has also not lost a start either.

The Red Sox could find a way to keep both De La Rosa and Workman up on the big league squad with Workman definitely earning a spot on the team. The 25-year-old could pitch out of the bullpen in an extended role, just like he did in 2013 in the postseason when Jake Peavy struggled at times.

For De La Rosa, his last start on Monday showed the Red Sox that he is ready to compete in the majors and that if the team needs to turn to him, then he can be relied upon.

It’s all up to whether the Red Sox want to keep him in the rotation or not.

Rubby De La Rosa Hurls Gem Against Rays

Rubby De La RosaRubby De La Rosa may have pitched in relief with the Boston Red Sox in 2013, but he has been groomed as a starter for most of his career. The flamethrower showed exactly what he can do in Saturday night’s contest against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The 25-year-old threw all four of his pitches for strikes while throwing seven shutout innings against the Rays in his first start since August 31, 2011 for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The right-handed starter struck out eight while only allowing four hits and walking no one. He also didn’t plunk anyone with any of his 105 pitches.

De La Rosa threw strike after strike and finished with 72 of them on the night. While the Rays’ offense hasn’t been much of a factor this season, the Red Sox offense was able to pad a lead off Jake Odorizzi with five runs in the third and fourth innings. This allowed De La Rosa to really settle in as he reached as high as 99 mph on the radar gun.

The best pitch of his arsenal is his fastball, but his changeup makes him a great starter while Clay Buchholz is on the DL. For the time being, De La Rosa will be a must-watch starter in this rotation and his first win with the Red Sox increased the win streak to six games.

Why Rubby De La Rosa Gets the Nod in Starting Rotation

Rubby De La Rosa (AP)With Clay Buchholz missing some time due to a hyper-extended knee, Rubby De La Rosa will get the start on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays. Depending on how that goes, the 25-year-old could see multiple starts with the Boston Red Sox while Buchholz is on the mend.

De La Rosa may be 2-3 on the season, but the 3.04 ERA through 10 starts has really been phenomenal. Plus, 52 strikeouts in 53.1 innings isn’t too shabby either. The youngster has not started in the majors since August 31, 2011 with the Los Angeles Dodgers after dealing with Tommy John surgery in 2012 and working his way back in 2013. He did come up as a reliever, but Saturday will be his first start with the Red Sox.

Allen Webster and Anthony Ranaudo were both options, but Webster got tagged for six earned runs on Sunday and has not been great in the early going of his starts at the major league level. Ranaudo has no major league experience and is still getting used to the Triple-A atmosphere.

Webster will likely be next in line with a solid 3.17 ERA in 59.2 innings of work. The 43 strikeouts compared to 25 walks is of some concern, but the groundball rate has been solid, but the 1.91 GO/AO for De La Rosa is even better.

Everyone wants Henry Owens to be the guy called up as soon as possible, but he needs at least 10 or more starts at Triple-A before he even gets looked at. So, the Red Sox need to promote him from Double-A Portland to Pawtucket in order for him to be considered by management.

De La Rosa is the guy for the time being.