September of 2012 was the final end to a disastrous season for the Red Sox, especially in the pitching department. The Red Sox had resigned themselves to giving starts to Aaron Cook, who was playing out the string on a rather pedestrian career.
In 2012 Felix Doubront was getting some time off late in the season. Arm weary was the reasoning since Doubront was piling on some innings. Doubront showed glimpses of talent, enough of a tease that made one realize there was some upside, an upside that needed protection, specially in a season lost.
In 2013 Doubront showed up at spring training looking like a potential contestant for The Biggest Loser. Nice first impression for a new manager. Young, great potential and, with thieving a line from Letterman, he was a “Fat Tub Of Goo.” Red Sox Nation went to DEFCON 1 and the talk shows and media had the goat horns ready.
Through May Felix did not disappoint as his WHIP and ERA were 2011 Lackey like. Then came a turn around.
For June through August Doubront was dependable. In fact terms like ACE were even tossed around. In 97.1 frames he allowed 86 hits while posting a 3.15 ERA. Felix had an impressive string of allowing 3 runs or less and was considered Mr. Dependable. Then came September.
Was it a wall? Conditioning? Focus? His ERA ballooned to 9.77 and his walks were mounting and his K’s decreasing. Real bad karma for a pennant push. You look at the standard and advanced metrics and to quote famous Sox philosophers: “This guy sucks!”
When playoff time rolled around Felix was confined to the baseball doghouse. But the playoffs saw a resurrection. Small sample it may be but his significance cannot be dismissed. With it came internal hope for 2014.
Pitching coach Juan Nieves has claimed Doubront can win 20 games. I’m not sure if that is a two year total projection or the results of bubbly from that golden bottle of champagne at the celebration. Hyperbole to build up confidence? What is sure is Nieves has expressed some real “Man Love” for Doubront.
What is certain is Doubront has shown glimpses of being a true talent. It was there for three months in 2013. He has all those wonderful “tools” used to describe potential. Felix also has the opportunity that rarely comes along twice and that is to reach that potential in 2014.
If he gets that consistency, he could easily be a top of the rotation guy. He is young, with excellent stuff and now a sliver of success on the big stage under his belt. And if he shows up with a size 34 belt in spring training, Mr. Nieves may just be correct.