Could Red Sox prospect Chris Murphy make his MLB debut in 2021?
The 2020 Boston Red Sox had a serious pitching problem. Sure, the entire season was weird, starting with the fact that it was only 60 games. But let’s be honest, had it been a full 162-game schedule the pitching probably would have looked even worse.
They had a bad starting rotation. Even with Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez healthy, the back end would have been a mess. Meanwhile, the bullpen was sloppily thrown together and they didn’t even really have a closer, or a set up man, or anyone they could trust for very long to put it bluntly.
It looks like the Red Sox are indeed trying to make some changes to their pitching staff this offseason. They are linked to Corey Kluber and the trade rumors around Andrew Benintendi make it seem like he would be sent away for some pitching help as well.
However, in the words of the great Dave Chappelle, “modern problems require modern solutions.” And as we all know, I am a big fan of the minor leagues. That’s where Chris Murphy comes into play, and he certainly is a modern solution.
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Murphy is just 22. He was drafted in 2019 (sixth-round) and has just 33 1/3 innings under his belt (10 appearances), all of those coming with the Short-A Lowell Spinners. There he had a 1.08 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and .197 BAA. He also struck out 34 batters while walking just seven and allowing just one home run.
Obviously due to the insane 2020 season, Murphy did not get a chance to pitch in the non-existent Minor Leagues last year. So he is not as far along in his organizational development as many would probably like. That would lead you to believe the left-handed reliever is still miles away from pitching in the Majors.
*Charlie Murphy voice* WRONG! (We’re sticking with a Chappelle’s Show theme here …)
Okay, look – I’m not saying Murphy is starting the year in the Majors, because he clearly isn’t. That would be insane. I’m also not saying there isn’t a chance Boston doesn’t take their time with the reliever and make sure everything is right (there’s no need to rush and screw up development on anyone).
However, what I am saying is that Murphy is advanced for where he is at. I’ve already talked about how 2021 could be a year where Murphy jumps up a few levels. Would it be completely insane to see him vaulted into the Majors?
Yes and no. Going from Short-A and a full year off to the Majors seems nearly impossible.
Murphy has some things going for him though. He was a three-year contributor at the University of San Diego. There the 6’1″ pitcher was mainly a starter, with a few relief appearances sprinkled in. He was well-seasoned before even getting to the minors.
Murphy has a low-mid 90s fastball with strong control. A good first pitch and one that isn’t going to get him in trouble.
He also has a curveball that ranges in the low-to-mid 70s with great break that can completely disappear on hitters. The control isn’t 100% there, causing this pitch to come in a little flat sometimes, but when it’s working it’s nasty.
A sharp 80 MPH slider is next. Fast cuts will leave hitters lunging and ending up on a knee reaching out across the plate for a pitch in the dirt on occasion. It can get pretty ugly.
We’re ending it with the changeup that sits around 80 MPH as well. Looks like the fastball in both arm motion and out of hand, but has a nice speed change and late drop-off that’s more devastating than a Brodie Lee discus lariat. Real “chef’s kiss” type of pitch.
Look, I know some people don’t love the changeup as much as me. I’ve been told this on multiple occasions that changeups aren’t nearly as incredible and life-changing as I make them out to me. But hey, some people say cucumbers taste better pickled (on a role with these Chappelle’s Show references).
The repertoire of pitches is there, and so is the experience. He will need a little more seasoning, but think about it this way. Murphy starts the year in Full-A or Advanced-A. That does not really put him all that far away. His numbers in Short-A in 2019 were absolutely fantastic. A good start in 2021 could have the lefty in Double-A by June.
Double-A by June could absolutely put him on track for a late-season call-up if the Red Sox need it.
As Wu-Tang Financial has told us, you need to Diversify Yo Bonds! Yes, that’s my fourth Chappelle’s Show reference, comedy comes in threes (okay that’s a Rick and Morty reference, now we’re all over the place). And that’s what the Boston Red Sox could be doing with Chris Murphy here – diversifying their bonds.
They need to add pieces to their rotation and bullpen. It’s hard to see them doing it all in free agency and via trades. So some minor league players could be thrown into the mix.
Chris Murphy is not an immediate solution. He still needs some time in the minors. However, a lot of people might not see that ETA for the Majors until 2023. 2022 is definitely a possibility though. I’m here to tell you don’t sleep on 2021. It’s not the most likely of scenarios, but there is a way it could happen.
This is a seasoned college pitcher who looked more-than ready in his limited time in the minors. There is absolutely reason to believe he could be fast-tracked up the MiLB ladder in 2021 to help the Boston Red Sox at the end of the season for a potential postseason push.