Allen Webster closing season on high note


There were a number of positives to take away from last night’s 11-1 win against the Tampa Bay Rays. Christian Vazquez and Rusney Castillo both blasted their first Major League home runs, with Vazquez going 4-4 to boot, and rookie sensation Mookie Betts had three hits. However, perhaps none of those bright spots was quite as encouraging as Allen Webster‘s start for the Red Sox.

Webster’s Red Sox career has gotten off to a rough start to say the least. He posted an 8.60 ERA in 8 games (7 starts) last season, posting a miserable 5.3 BB/9, and he hasn’t been great this year either. However, Webster threw the best game of his career thus far last night, tossing 7 strong innings while allowing just a run on 7 hits and a walk, punching out 5 batters as well.

That start would be encouraging regardless of the circumstances; however, that strong start is even more impressive when considering that it comes as the final chapter of three solid starts to close out Webster’s season. The first two starts (a 6-inning, 2-run effort against the Royals and a 5.2-inning, 1-run game against the Orioles) were both encouraging outings for the 24-year old right-hander, though not as good as last night’s start, as just that three-start stretch has been enough to lower Webster’s ERA from 6.47 to a much more respectable 5.03 mark.

And since Webster has achieved some modicum of consistency to end the 2014 season, it’s worth wondering what this three-start stretch means for Webster’s future.

After all, the Red Sox will need to upgrade their rotation significantly this offseason in order to contend next year and, even if they acquire two solid starters this winter, Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly are the only pitchers that will definitely be in the rotation (barring a trade) next year. None of the various youngsters that the Red Sox have promoted this season have been consistently good with Rubby De La Rosa‘s 4.50 ERA marking the cream of the crop.

Although Webster opening next season in the rotation would have seemed crazy just two weeks ago, it now seems like a realistic, albeit still unlikely, possibility. Scouts have long considered Webster to have the best pure stuff in the system; it’s always just been a question of command. In these last three starts, however, he has walked just 3 batters in 18.2 innings pitched, showing increased confidence and a propensity for attacking the strike zone which had been absent through much of the early portion of Webster’s career.

Three starts is a pretty small sample size and may be indicative of nothing; however, it’s certainly encouraging to see any positive stretch for Webster. If he is able to continue this improved command into Spring Training of next season, then it’s possible that he could come away with a starting gig in the Red Sox rotation. It still isn’t a likely result by any means, but it at least appears possible now, and that’s something that couldn’t be said just a couple of weeks ago.