Race to 25: Update on the Red Sox Roster Battles

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Sep 28, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez (52) delivers a pitch during the second inning of the game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 28, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez (52) delivers a pitch during the second inning of the game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports /
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As the Red Sox opened camp, questions remained regarding who would make up the roster and what roles they would fill, resulting in multiple roster battles.

Sep 28, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez (52) delivers a pitch during the second inning of the game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 28, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez (52) delivers a pitch during the second inning of the game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports /

As the Red Sox opened up Spring Training, many questions remained regarding who would fill out the 25-man roster and what role each player would have on the team come Opening Day, which resulted in a camp full of competition.  This is the second edition of the weekly update on the progress of those roster battles.  Go check out the first edition and second edition.

The pitcher and position battles we are currently tracking in camp include:

  1. The Starting Rotation
  2. The Bullpen
  3. The Starting Lineup
  4. The Bench.

As for every one of the roster battles this spring, you must take into account that John Farrell‘s seat could not be hotter.  There is a reason why the Red Sox made the decision to pay bench coach Torey Lovullo a manager’s salary.  Therefore, although it is only Spring Training , John Farrell is going to consider everything given the fact the decisions he makes on the above-referenced competitions may be his last if he gets them wrong.

STARTING ROTATION

Due to an injury from earlier this spring, Eduardo Rodriguez will start the season on the disabled list.  As a result, a competition has begun for the right to start in Rodriguez’s place until he is healthy enough to return.

The Candidates

  1. Steven Wright
  2. Henry Owens
  3. Roenis Elias

The State of the Competition

Wright entered this week ahead of his competition.  He made his third appearance this spring on Wednesday, pitching 2.2 innings against the Twins.  Wright surrendered five hits and gave up one run, while striking out two and walking two.  Overall, Wright has pitched 9.2 innings this spring and given up 13 hits and four walks.  He has also struck out four batters.  His spring ERA is 2.79 and opponents are hitting .317 off him.

Owens followed up his poor start last week against the Marlins with an even worse start this week against the Orioles.  This time, he completed 2.2 innings and gave up four earned runs.  Owens gave up four hits, including one HR, and hit two batters.  The one bright spot in his afternoon was striking out four batters, but overall this was Owens’ second straight start where he gave up four runs and could not finish three innings.

Elias made his third appearance and second start of the spring on Friday night against the Rays.  He looked strong, giving up no earned runs in four innings of work, and while the Rays tallied five hits against him, he issued no walks and struck out five batters.  Overall, Elias has pitched 8.2 innings this spring, given up 14 hits, three walks and struck out 10 batters.  His ERA stands at 6.23.

The Leaderboard

  1. Steven Wright
  2. Roenis Elias
  3. Henry Owens

As of today, the Opening Day starting rotation will be:

  1. David Price
  2. Clay Buchholz
  3. Rick Porcello
  4. Joe Kelly
  5. Steven Wright

The favorite to make the Opening Day rotation remains Wright after three weeks, but his lead is ever so slight.  There is no doubt that Elias has the bigger upside and better track record, but I remain skeptical of Farrell’s claim that he will not consider depth when making this decision.  The fact remains that Eduardo Rodriguez is going to return at some point in April most likely, at which point whoever wins this battle is going to be taken out of the rotation.  Therefore, I find it hard to believe the Red Sox will effectively release Wright, who is out of options, and diminish their depth and roster options in order to give Elias three to four starts in April, unless Elias is by far and away better this spring.  Through three weeks, Elias has not been better.  In fact, he has arguably been worse, at least with regard to results.

Next: The Bullpen

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