Red Sox rotation needs an open casting call

Apr 28, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz (31) pitches during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 28, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz (31) pitches during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox rotation is solid for three slots, but the other two leaves a perilous opening. Just how far do you go with Drew Pomeranz and Kyle Kendrick?

Where is the break point for pitchers who simply continue to be sent to the mound as baseball sacrificial fodder? The latest is the continuing exploits of Boston Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz, who apparently has a pitching spigot in his left arm that runs hot or cold – mostly cold.

The Red Sox starting rotation took two pitching broadsides with the full season departure of Steven Wright to knee surgery (lose some weight, Steve) and David Price who has some arm issues. Price may or may not be capable once he returns and if that happens the Red Sox are down to Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, and Eduardo Rodriguez. No Spahn and Sain and pray for rain – just yet.

The Red Sox have three-fifths of a rotation at this point that one could consider reliable, but that other two-thirds are a nightmare. Pomeranz simply appears to be another addition to Dave Dombrowski’s ever growing list of questionable bad deals. The fifth spot in the rotation was temporarily in the right hand of Kyle Kendrick until he was shuffled back to the PawSox, but never say never – just remember Sean O’Sullivan.

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I will attempt to – as difficult as it may be – to take the positive route and say that Price will return to his second half of 2016 glories. That will leave the fifth slot in the rotation to be open for anyone with a pitching pulse. I do not see the gallant Mr. Kendrick as any viable solution.

The Pawtucket Red Sox have three pitchers who are actually tossing the ball with some degree of success. Granted, this is the International League and things have an unfortunate way of changing dramatically once you try the same pitching against MLB hitters.

Two former number one picks – Brian Johnson and Henry Owens – are doing remarkably well in their latest incarnation of teasing the Red Sox fan base. Both have tried and failed at the MLB level, so going that route can bring Einstein’s statement on insanity into play.

The Red Sox also have another capable veteran in Pawtucket just itching to migrate into the big bucks of an MLB roster spot. Hector Velazquez was signed on the merits of a remarkable 18-4 season in 2016. The 28-year-old righty has something attached to that record – The Mexican League.

Hector has shown in the early going that some of that magic since 2016 has migrated past the proposed Trump Wall to the United States. Velazquez has made four starts for the PawSox and is 2-0 with a very comfortable 1.23 ERA. So add Hector to the list of possibilities.

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Now that I have wandered away it is back to the original premise of just where is the breaking point? How far do you go with Pomeranz? My long used rule of baseball pitching is ten starts. In ten starts you know what you have and with Pomeranz, you have a night out to ignore baseball and assume a loss. But that application is applied with my usual ability to be inconsistent. My ten starts generally is applied to those who have at least some legitimacy with the rotation. That can certainly be shortened with an influx from Pawtucket.

Pomeranz has now made 19 starts in his brief Boston career and I am firmly in the “not impressed” category. Enough has been written on this site and just about everywhere else on Pomeranz and the lack of confidence one of his starts instills. Bluntly put – Pomeranz is not the answer to a number four or five in your rotation.

The Red Sox from my view have two open slots in the rotation and it is better to find out now just who is capable of stepping up. Three potentials for replacement exist and if someone has a three-sided coin I will gladly flip it – if it stands on edge then Pomeranz can stay.

So how far do you go with your choice of a replacement? Obviously by personal ten games gets booted since patience is not a virtue when dealing with Owens, Johnson, Velazquez, and Kendrick, but a few starts should give an idea of what you have. The issue is just who? I do have a fondness for giving Owens, another few starts, but will shed no tears of disappointment if it is Johnson or Velazquez.

The significant issue with the current vulnerability in the rotation is the bullpen. In baseball, circa 2017 the bullpen has suddenly taken on and even exceeded equal footing with the rotation. The very last thing the Red Sox need is a string of four and five inning starts. Even squeezing an extra inning or two from your starter has far-reaching consequences for a bullpen.

Next: David Price set for first rehab start

Rolling out Pomeranz will eventually just give away games so maybe the next guy standing will have more success. If you are going to lose, maybe just lose with a new face? If not the Red Sox will have a nice four man rotation if Price is 100%. For the playoffs – if they are so fortunate – that could make them a favorite.