Red Sox: What the starting rotation looks like now

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What about the rest?

Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

That still leaves a handful of pitchers that made at least one start for Boston last year that remain on the 40-man roster. So what do the Red Sox do with them?

Henry Owens is the premier name in this group, but he may fall victim to a numbers game. The organization still has high hopes for the lefty’s future, but he’ll likely start the season down in Pawtucket waiting for an injury or trade to pave a path for his return to the big leagues. He showed potential in his rookie season, but inconsistency held him to a mediocre 4.57 ERA, indicating a bit more seasoning wouldn’t hurt. He’d need to have a sensational spring in order to force his way into the rotation to begin the year.

Brian Johnson arguably performed the best of the trio of young left-handed pitchers that started the season together in Pawtucket last year, but he failed to impress in his major league debut and injury deprived him of a second chance. If he out-pitches Owens early in the season down in Triple-A, he may manage to steal his spot as the first option to be called up if the Red Sox need a spot starter.

It will be tempting to see if Joe Kelly can recapture the form that led to him ripping off eight straight wins during a streak that began on August 1, so keeping him stretched out as a starter in Pawtucket is an option. Then again, Dave Dombrowski likes hard throwing relievers and may envision Kelly’s blazing fastball and limited arsenal as an ideal fit for the bullpen.

The team has already determined that to be the plan for Matt Barnes, so that answers the question of what his role will be. No more flip-flopping between being a starter or reliever. Barnes will be in the bullpen full-time next season.

That leaves us with Steven Wright, who will once again serve as emergency depth for the rotation or a long reliever out of the bullpen. The knuckleballer always seems to exceed expectations when given the chance, but there’s always other options with greater upside standing in his way.

Next: More acquisitions possible after Price?

It’s a long season, so we may see all of these pitchers used on the roster at some point in 2016. The Red Sox are thrilled to finally have the ace they craved, but are also fortunate to have so much depth behind him.