With Eduardo Rodriguez finally set to return this Sunday after an extensive rehabilitation program, the Red Sox will be forced to make a cut to their pitching roster. Rodriguez will presumably take Hector Velazquez’s place in the rotation, and Velazquez will most likely get bumped to the bullpen, but the question is who he’s going to displace. Most likely it will be one of either Bobby Poyner or Marcus Walden.
Both rookies, Poyner and Walden were each non-roster invitees to Spring Training who both showed well enough to surprisingly make the MLB roster. Poyner is 25-years old and, prior to this year, had never pitched above the AA level, and Walden (29) had never seen time on a big league mound and even spent some time playing Independent ball.
Of the two, it’s clear that Poyner has earned the chance to remain with the club and continue to prove himself. Through 4 games he’s thrown 4.2 innings, allowing just 3 hits and 0 walks (.643 WHIP) and just 1 run (1.93 ERA). He has 6 K’s, a swing-and-miss rate of almost 26%, and has just 26% of his pitches have been hit hard, according to Fangraphs’ metrics. He’s looked comfortable on the mound and hasn’t seemed to let the pressure of pitching in the bigs get to him at all.
(Photo credit: Red Sox)
Walden, by comparison, is carrying a 5.40 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP over 3.1 IP, has struck out just 1, and is allowing hard contact on 61% of his pitches (again according to Fangraphs).
Now, who knows what’s going to happen when Pomeranz returns. Maybe Poyner pitches someone else off the roster, maybe his ride comes to an end, but for now let’s just enjoy watching one of those special kind of stories that only this wonderful sport of baseball can produce.