The Next Big Battle Within Red Sox Roster Could Come From the Rotation

In 2017, Drew Pomeranz was the 2nd best starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. His 17 wins was tied for the team high, and he posted his 2nd straight year with exactly a 3.32 ERA. Boston expected a repeat of that sort of effectiveness in 2018, but so far Pomeranz has performed far below par.

After sustaining a forearm strain in Spring Training and missing his first 4 starts, Pomeranz has posted a 6.75 ERA to go along with a 1-2 record. He’s compiled a massive 1.88 WHIP and .311 OBA, he’s walking 5.34 batters per 9 innings and stranding just 67.8% of base runners. His last 3 starts, in which he’s allowed 12 earned runs off of 18 hits and 11 walks in just 11.1 IP, have been especially poor, and they have a majority of Red Sox Nation calling for his replacement within the rotation.

Boston has no shortage of starting pitching depth, and all they’d have to do to replace Pomeranz is look to their bullpen, where Steven Wright and Hector Velazquez are waiting.

Like Pomeranz, Wright missed the beginning of the season, but his performance since returning has been the polar opposite of the big lefty’s. Wright has put together a good looking 2018 resume, with an ERA of 2.77 and a WHIP of 1.15. His most impressive stat, though, is his opponent’s batting average of just .178. After a very bad debut, Wright has pitched 10.2 innings, allowing just 6 hits and 4 walks, 2 earned runs, and stranding 80.9% of base runners. Add in the fact that it’s strange, although not unheard of, to trot out a knuckleballer from the bullpen, and the ingredients are there for Wright to join the rotation.

Velazquez has been just as good as Wright, if not better. He’s made 13 appearances (2 starts), 8 of which have been scoreless, and in 5 of which he’s allowed 1 hit or less. His 2.15 ERA is 2nd best on the team, and his 92.6% LOB rate is tops for the Sox. To further strengthen his case, he has quite the pedigree as a starting pitcher, winning the pitcher of the year award in the professional Mexican league in 2016.

Pomeranz is slated to make his next start on Thursday in Houston, but one would have to assume that his leash is getting shorter with every poor outing. If he finds a way to turn it around and be effective then that’s great, and he’d be a welcome tool in the rotation, but if he continues to struggle like he has been, then one of the two guys mentioned above could be gunning for his spot.

(Header photo credit: The Eagle Tribune)

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