Red Sox pitcher Zack Godley deserves opportunity to join rotation

BOSTON, MA - JULY 27: Zack Godley #68 of the Boston Red Sox delivers a pitch during the sixth inning of a game against the New York Mets on July 27, 2020 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JULY 27: Zack Godley #68 of the Boston Red Sox delivers a pitch during the sixth inning of a game against the New York Mets on July 27, 2020 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

Zack Godley deserves a shot to join the Red Sox rotation.

The dreadful Boston Red Sox rotation is desperate to find anyone capable of resembling a major league-caliber starting pitcher. Zack Godley was signed to handle a bulk-inning role out of the bullpen but it’s becoming clear that they have little choice but to give him an opportunity to join the rotation.

Nathan Eovaldi shined on Opening Day by tossing six innings of one-run ball but it’s been all downhill from there. Boston dropped their next three games while their starters combined to surrender 12 runs in 10 2/3 innings for a brutal 10.12 ERA.

That includes Monday’s loss to the New York Mets when the Red Sox used Josh Osich as an opener. The lefty made it through the first inning unscathed but a leadoff walk followed by a two-run homer proved that manager Ron Roenicke stuck with him a bit too long.

That’s hardly surprisingly considering Osich was making his first career “start” after spending parts of five big league seasons strictly as a reliever. He has logged multi-inning appearances in the past but they typically come in mop-up duty, never to begin a game.

Fellow lefty Jeffrey Springs took over in the third inning only to get pounded for five runs while recording only four outs. He served up a pair of long home runs, including an absolute missile off the bat of Pete Alonso that was fired into the Monster seats at 116.3 mph. That homer, which would have registered as the 12th-highest exit velocity in the majors last year, left the park in the blink of an eye. Sadly, Springs did not. He remained in the game as the Red Sox allowed the game to slip away.

It wasn’t until Godley entered in the fifth that the Mets offense was finally tamed. The right-hander tossed four shutout innings in relief, allowing only four hits without a walk and striking out seven.

The Red Sox went with a pair of lefties in the early innings because Roenicke believed the Mets lineup wouldn’t fare as well against southpaws. That plan clearly backfired. Perhaps the new Red Sox manager was overthinking it. Instead of trying to patch together a string of relievers based on matchups, Boston may be better off giving the start to one of the few pitchers who is throwing the ball well. At the moment, that’s Godley.

While the manager has yet to commit to making a change in the rotation, Roenicke did admit that inserting Godley into the rotation is something the team will discuss, per MassLive’s Chris Cotillo.

"“We’ll see,” Roenicke said after Monday’s game. “We’ll talk about it and see how it matches up. He certainly pitched well enough that it’s definitely a conversation that we’re going to have.”"

Godley was impressive in his team debut, throwing 36 of his 53 pitches for strikes, including 15 swings and misses, without walking a batter. That’s a very encouraging sign for a pitcher who had control issues in recent years.

He relied heavily on his cutter and curve, abandoning his fastball and sinker. Godley has rarely thrown a four-seam fastball in recent years and his sinker was hammered to the tune of a .326 average and .425 WOBA last year, per Baseball Savant. The cutter (.236 AVG, .316 WOBA) and curve (.240 AVG, .305 WOBA) were his best pitches last year. His cutter carved up the Mets lineup last night and he dropped in some filthy curveballs to keep them off balance.

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Starting pitchers typically need more than two pitches to navigate opposing lineups multiple times so it’s unclear if Godley can continue to get away with this limited arsenal. The Red Sox don’t necessarily need him to go deep into games though. Had he started the game with four strong innings, Boston may have taken the lead when their offense finally woke up in the fourth inning. Instead, they found themselves buried with the game practically out of reach by that point.

The Red Sox have a powerful offense but even great lineups will struggle when they are constantly tasked with playing from behind. Turning to a pair of relievers who probably wouldn’t be on the team if it weren’t for early-season roster expansion was a questionable strategy for the first few innings. Osich and Springs have underwhelming track records and did very little in spring training to earn their spots.

Maybe Godley isn’t the solution for Boston’s rotation woes but this latest performance combined with the three shutout innings he tossed in last week’s exhibition game are enough to earn him the opportunity.

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Last year was a disaster but Godley is only a couple of seasons removed from a very promising breakout season. We know he’s done the job before and if his latest sample is a sign that he’s rediscovered that previous form then a Red Sox team that is dangerously thin on viable options would be doing themselves a disservice by not giving him a few starts to see what he can do.