The Fifth Spot in the Rotation
What happened this week?
As previously discussed here at Bosox Injection, John Farrell opened up the competition for the fifth spot in the rotation earlier this Spring, with the two likely candidates being Joe Kelly and Henry Owens. Both Kelly and Owens have made a start this Spring.
Owens started the opener against the Minnesota Twins. Although he was inconsistent with his fastball velocity and command, which resulted in two hits and two walks, Owens completed his two innings without surrendering a run. Also, quite impressively, five of the six outs Owens registered were by strikeout.
Kelly started Friday night’s game against the Tampa Rays. He also pitched two scoreless innings, surrendering two hits and one walk and registering one strikeout.
Who won the week?
Eyes may roll at the suggestion these innings matter, but they do. Do they matter as much as Owens and Kelly’s starts later this Spring once they are stretched out and pitching five to six innings? No, they do not, but these innings served the purpose of setting the tone of the competition.
The winner of this week’s games was Henry Owens. His five strikeouts, many with runners threatening, were impressive. Keeping his composure in order to get big outs with runners on base was something Owens struggled with last year, which is why he had three outings where he surrendered seven runs or more.
Owens is going to win this competition in one of the following ways: (1) Kelly is solid, but Owens shows he can be dominant in his innings; or (2) Kelly has a terrible Spring and Owens is merely good. Every week Owens can point to one of those two scenarios happening is a win for him and this past week he demonstrated he is capable of being dominant with five strikeouts in only two innings of work.
Next: Sixth Bullpen Spot