The Boston Red Sox debuted their Triple-A pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, on Thursday night, with excellent results. He was recently compared to Billy Rohr because of that night. Whenever comparisons start to ascend to the forefront, opinions form that can take the crowd into different directions, some being pleasant and some being negative.
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In this case, the opinions can be also on how a Major League debut can compare to how successful a starting pitcher can be in the future. Justin Masterson, the Red Sox off-season acquisition for the starting rotation, related Rodriguez’s moment to his own debut for Boston, back in 2008.
Ricky Doyle of NESN reported about the comparison. “Masterson allowed one earned run on two hits over six innings in his debut April 24, 2008. He returned to Pawtucket following the outing and rejoined Boston a few weeks later despite a rough patch down on the farm.” Masterson went 6-5, with a 3.16 ERA, as both a reliever and a starter in that season. In 2009, he did double duty again, going 3-3 for Boston, before being moved to the Cleveland Indians, where he went 1-7. Eight of those loses came when the Red Sox or Indians scored two or less runs, making Masterson having to shut down the opposition, without much success.
May 12, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Justin Masterson (63) at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Slowly, but surely, Masterson started rounding into form. Finally, in 2013, Masterson became an All-Star, ending the season with a 14-10 record and a 3.45 ERA. He started 29 games, where he recorded three complete game shutouts and 195 strikeouts. It should also be noted that it was the same year that Masterson led the league with hitting 17 batters with a pitch.
Masterson would not have come back to the big leagues, and had that success, if he didn’t get his head on straight in the minors. “I went down and had four of the worst starts of my life, and then got called up after the fifth one and then got my first win in the big leagues … It wasn’t extra motivation, but it could have been trying to overthink.”
In this turbulent season for the Red Sox starting rotation, who knows what will happen to Rodriguez: whether he will be sent back down or not. Doyle first claimed that “Rodriguez’s first stint with Boston could be brief. While the Red Sox have high expectations for the 22-year-old left-hander and obviously feel as though he’s on the cusp of helping the major league club on a full-time basis, the expectation going into Thursday’s start was that it’d be his first taste of the majors before returning to Triple-A Pawtucket for more seasoning.”
Doyle later reported that Rodriguez “will remain in Boston’s big league rotation for the time being, [which] manager John Farrell said before Friday’s game at Globe Life Park. The 22-year-old’s next scheduled start is Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park.” Rodriguez should have until June 8th, Boston’s off-day, to make his case for staying with the big club.
With many of the starters being inconsistent, another good start by Rodriguez should mean that he would stay. If that happens, Doyle’s idea that “Kelly and Wright seem like candidates to be removed from the rotation” also seems to be pretty accurate. After all, the Red Sox are spending a great deal of money for Masterson, Rick Porcello, Clay Buchholz, and Wade Miley to fill the rest of the rotation spots, this season.
Is it possible that a call-up from Triple-A could have better stuff than all of them, combined? If Rodriguez keeps the Twins off of the scoreboard, he could be just the shut-down artist that Red Sox Nation has been hoping for, without trading all of Boston’s top prospects. Then again, it’s only been one game, so far. For Rodriguez’s sake, let’s hope it won’t take a stint back in the minors and five years for him to be an All-Star pitcher, like Masterson. The Red Sox don’t have the time to wait.
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