Justin Masterson has made six starts for the Red Sox this season and, though we’re only about a month into the season, it’s clear that he’s not a part of the team’s future and probably shouldn’t even be a part of the present. Signed for $9.5M as a potential reclamation project this offseason, Masterson sports a 5.18 ERA and 4.9 BB/9 thus far. He has lost significant velocity on his fastball and his command is nowhere to be found and, with the Red Sox in such a dire place with their rotation, it might be time to pull the plug on Masterson.
With yesterday’s news that the Red Sox have fired pitching coach Juan Nieves and designated Edward Mujica for assignment, it’s clear that the Red Sox are changing up their team. Don’t be surprised if Masterson is the first to go from the ailing Red Sox rotation and, if he is, expect promising pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez to get a shot.
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Rodriguez, acquired at last season’s trade deadline in exchange for Andrew Miller, has been lights out since entering the Red Sox organization. After struggling to the tune of a 4.79 ERA in 16 starts for Double-A Bowie, Rodriguez posted a stingy 0.96 ERA to go with 9.4 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in six starts for Portland after the trade. He has been similarly good in his first four starts with Triple-A Pawtucket this season, posting a 1.82 ERA with impressive peripherals in his 8.0 K/9 and excellent 0.7 BB/9.
At 22 years old, Rodriguez appears to have overtaken Henry Owens as the top pitching prospect in the Red Sox organization. His absolute dominance coupled with the recent command troubles of Owens and Brian Johnson position Rodriguez as the most likely prospect to join Boston’s rotation.
Boasting a fastball in the mid 90’s alongside a change which projects as an elite pitch and a solid slider, the Venezuelan left-hander is likely major league ready. Given the Red Sox’ recent moves, shaking things up in an attempt to help the team live up to pre-season expectations, it shouldn’t be long before Rodriguez is in Boston. If he continues to perform well in Pawtucket, he should be in the rotation soon and don’t be surprised if he’s one of the team’s best starters right off the bat. Who knows? Maybe he’ll be the quality starter the Red Sox so desperately need.