The Boston Red Sox had an advantage in their rotation few teams have – a spot starter that resulted in a team 14-7 record. Thank you, Hector Velazquez and Brian Johnson.
A pitcher starts 21 games with 91 innings pitched, 100 hits, 42 earned runs, 36 walks, 76 strikeouts, and a pedestrian 6-5 record. But another statistic jumps out and that is a team record of 14-7 in those 21 starts. Obviously, that pitcher gave his team a jump-start to win the game. A winning percentage for his team is .667 and that is exactly what the winning percentage was for the Red Sox in 2018.
Now a pitcher who has a 1.49 WHIP and a 4.15 ERA is nothing startling but is acceptable when extrapolated for a 30-33 start range. However, this is not just one pitcher, but two pitchers whose roles were what can best be designated as a “spot starter” and that is exactly what lefty Brian Johnson and righty Hector Velazquez did for the Red Sox.
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Red Sox fans viewed starts by either as a potential loss and not a potential win, but the end results showed just the opposite. Johnson and Velazquez gave the Red Sox just what they needed and just when they needed it. I now must retract all those nasty comments about both that I contributed to on chats and posting boards.
Johnson accumulated the bulk of the starts (13) and was 4-3, with a 4.15 ERA in those starts. Velazquez matched Johnson’s ERA and was 2-2 in his eight starts. Both had their moments of starting glory and moments that were most certainly forgettable. Johnson, however, was considered more in the niche of a starter and Velazquez as more of a utility role – a Brock Holt of the pitching staff.
Neither Johnson or Velazquez will see extensive duty in the 2019 rotation unless a disaster of epic portions strikes the rotation. Of the two, the former number one pick Johnson has the high ground in claiming any rotation innings and may eventually be traded. Johnson appears to have value and could be an adequate addition to several MLB staffs.
Velazquez’s story is well-known with a long history in the highly competitive Mexican League. Now 30-years-old, Velazquez developed a knack for getting wins finishing the season at 7-2. With the 2019 staff, Velazquez will slide in somewhere and so will the now 28-year-old Johnson. But will it be Boston?
The Red Sox may update their bullpen this offseason with Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly starting to look more out than in for the 2019 team. Roster issues can certainly make both Velazquez and Johnson expendable, but I would hesitate. That .667 no matter how it was accomplished is a plus and an underrated accomplishment.
A thank you to poster ericmvan for reminding me to get this article started.