Red Sox best option for replacing Steven Wright is Henry Owens
By Rick McNair
The Boston Red Sox pitching staff is now a television medical drama as one after another go down for the count. My choice for next up in the rotation is Henry Owens.
Yes – this article most certainly will convince many that I need new medications, a frontal lobotomy or simply have all access to any computer removed until I go through baseball rehabilitation. Here it is, folks – the best long-term option for the Red Sox replacement of Steven Wright is Henry Owens.
This spring training Owens put on a display for the ages with a stat line that resulted in a 0-3 record in 7.1 innings pitched. The real jolt was 13 hits allowed and a mind-boggling 12 walks issues. Batters hit .382 and Owens had a 3.82 WHIP. The shock was he was sent to Pawtucket and not handed a paper with a simple “Get Lost” emblazoned upon it.
So far in the very young International League season the 24-year-old lefty has somehow managed to actually resemble a pitcher, but to the shock of no one is his pitching Achilles Heal – walks. Owens has allowed 18 in his 26.1 innings tossed for a 6.1 BB/9. For his minor league career, Owens has a 4.3 BB/9. The only real plus is Owens is stingy allowing hits – just 17 so far. In his career, it stands at 6.8 for the minors.
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Walks are especially frustrating to me and Owens is élite at magnifying that frustration. To add to my dismay is his pace on the mound that makes the departed Clay Buchholz actually seem ultra-quick. When you can’t locate a pitcher ends up with counts favoring hitters and that will simply get you a quick shower. Owens usually ends up well battered and bruised.
So why am I pushing for this former number one draft pick?
Still circulating in my brain pan is remembrances of his first season in Boston – 2015. Owens made 11 starts and finished 4-4. Fewer hits than innings pitched (63/62) and a 3.4 BB/9. Owens appeared ready to make an impact and he did in 2016 – he was beyond awful and quickly sent packing.
Kyle Kendrick and Hector Velazquez and both righties and may offer a better “balance” to the rotation. Both may have an opportunity to pass or fail in the following weeks, but my push is to give Owens the ball for half-dozen starts and see if that early promise of 2015 surfaces again. The reality is if Owens goes belly up to his chances of getting some serious MLB mound time will last as long as an ice-cube at noon in the Sahara.
Sometimes pitchers magically just “Get It” and suddenly blossom into a solid career. Dazzy Vance figured it out winning his first game at age 31 and eventually entering the Baseball Hall of Fame. Dave Stewart did little and suddenly became dominant. There is a very long list of pitchers who suddenly had their talent materialize. Most just have respectable and productive careers and certainly not the lofty results of Vance and Stewart – maybe Owens can slide into the respectable category?
I certainly do not expect Owens to be the second coming of Vance or Stewart, but stranger things have happened and the Red Sox are dire need of actually getting some good pitching news rather than bad. The bullpen has certainly done their part in the early going, so getting 5+ innings from Owens (or Kendrick, et al) can be enough for posting a win.
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Owens is just an option and one that the Red Sox may delay as much as possible since they have been burned enough by Owens. The input from the Pawtucket brain trust will certainly go far as will the various internal scouting reports. Eventually, Owens will get the call since the way the staff is crumbling I may get the call.