The Boston Red Sox need a left-handed bullpen arm. Meanwhile, their rotation might need a fifth starter. Roenis Elias has multiple paths to Opening Day.
Heading into spring training, the Boston Red Sox knew they needed another left-handed pitcher out of the bullpen. Now it appears they might need a fifth starter for their rotation. With that in mind, I have one question for you.
In 2016, Elias threw just 7 2/3 innings in the Majors. They weren’t his best 7 2/3 innings either, as he allowed 11 runs on 15 hits in that time.
Last season, Elias was given even less time in the Majors. He threw 1/3 of an inning walking one and picking up a strikeout. At least he didn’t give up a run.
His 2016 season in Triple-A was strong. With the Pawtucket Red Sox, the left-hander posted a 10-5 record and 3.60 ERA. Last season, the now-29-year-old battled plenty of injuries. This led to him making just 10 MiLB starts, and struggling for the most part.
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This all comes out to the Cuban running out of chances in Boston. While he’s not old, he’s not getting any younger, and this Spring seems like the perfect opportunity to make some noise.
The Red Sox entered Spring with a left-handed bullpen spot open. All signs pointed to Brian Johnson getting that though. Still, Elias wasn’t completely out of the running, and any opportunity is a good one, right?
His prospects got a little brighter when it began to appear that the Red Sox didn’t have a fifth starter for Opening Day. Eduardo Rodriguez won’t be ready, and now it seems Steven Wright might not be either.
This is another spot that both Johnson and Elias could win.
The bad news for Elias? Johnson looked fantastic in his first Spring appearance.
The good news for Elias? So did he.
In fact, both had the same exact line. Both lefties got through two innings without allowing a base runner. Both threw just 11 pitches to do so (all strikes) and picked up two strikeouts. The only difference was that Elias picked up a win.
Roenis Elias has been buried in the Boston Red Sox organization for two years now. He has stiff competition this season as well. Besides Johnson, Tommy Layne could win the left-handed bullpen spot, while Hector Velazquez should get a long look this Spring for the fifth rotation spot. With all that being said though, only Johnson and Elias have both roles in their sights.
It might be time for the Red Sox to walk with Elias.