This season was shaping up to be a make-or-break year for Felix Doubront. Doubront had been a member of the rotation for each of the previous years but in both seasons, he had faded down the stretch after promising starts to the season. It appeared that 2014 was the year in which Doubront would either prove he could hang in the rotation throughout the season or that he would relegate himself to the bullpen for the rest of his Red Sox career.
So far, it appears he has done the latter.
Doubront started ten games for the Red Sox this season, posting a mediocre 5.19 ERA and career-low 6.3 K/9 in just 50.1 innings pitched, averaging just 5 innings per start before a shoulder injury landed him on the disabled list in May. In Doubront’s place, the Red Sox recalled Rubby De La Rosa, who excelled to the point where he has landed himself a job in the Red Sox’ rotation. However, with De La Rosa pitching well (De La Rosa currently has a 2.64 ERA and 2.92 K/BB in 7 starts), there was no obvious place for Doubront in the rotation so the Red Sox placed him in the bullpen as the long reliever.
Doubront has remained in the bullpen ever since then, only appearing in five games over nearly a month since returning from injury. And according to a recent interview, Doubront isn’t too happy with his limited use in the bullpen.
I’m doing my work and trying to stay sharp. My mind is positive but this sucks
I just want to pitch. If it’s here or somewhere else, I just want to pitch. I need an opportunity if it’s another team or this team.
We have opportunities. I guess I’m just hoping for opportunities to get in games. It’s not happening right now.
It would have been hard to fathom a year ago, when Doubront was in the midst of a streak of fifteen consecutive starts in which he allowed three or fewer runs, but it looks like Doubront may be finished in a Red Sox uniform. Given the team’s pitching depth throughout the upper minors and in the rotation right now, there isn’t an obvious place that Doubront can fit into Boston’s long term plans.
There’s a possibility that the Red Sox could look to deal Doubront at this year’s trade deadline. However, he is unlikely to garner heavy interest and the Red Sox would gain no major benefit from trading him aside from a free roster space.
It sounds simple, but the best way for Doubront to gain more playing time is to pitch well. He was terrible as a starter throughout this season and even the end of last year, and he hasn’t been any better since being moved to the bullpen. No team is likely to trade anything for him unless he improves and the Red Sox won’t pitch him regularly unless he improves, so it is certainly in Doubront’s best interest to do just that: improve. If he is unable to do that over the coming months, however, it’s hard to imagine him ever playing into Boston’s future plans.