On a Sunday in which Eduardo Rodriguez was supposed to take the hill, the Red Sox were looking to take a series victory in Detroit. To the dismay of Sox fans, E-Rod was scratched from his start due to lingering hamstring tightness. Henry Owens was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to start in place of Rodriguez. As Owens has shown in the past, his success in the minor leagues was not able to translate to the major league level resulting in an ugly 10-5 loss for the Sox. He began the game by striking out 5 batters in the first 2 innings. I’m gonna be honest, this got my hopes up. I believed that maybe Owens had figured something out in Pawtucket. This was until the 3rd inning when he continued to live up to the title of one of the biggest let downs in the recent history of Red Sox prospects.
Owens went on to give up 5 runs in the third inning and another 3 in the fifth. This resulted in Owens’ final line of 5 IP, 8 ER, 6 H, 5 BB, 6 K’s. A few years ago, this is a kid that we could’ve traded straight up for Cole Hamels. Ben Cherington told former Phillies GM (Current Sox First Base Coach) Ruben Amaro to eat shit because Henry Owens was going to be the Sox first home grown ace since Jon Lester. There’s a few reasons this didn’t work out. First of all, Owens can’t command any of his pitches. Coming into Sunday’s game, Owens had walked 13 batters in just 12 ⅓ innings. That is a whopping 9.5 walks per 9 innings. I have never seen a starting pitcher with any kind of talent come anywhere close to that. This may be acceptable for a relief pitcher like Craig Kimbrel who will pitch one inning, walk one batter, and strike out the other three. Nonetheless, a starter who is walking at least one batter every inning is destined to be terrible. The other reason that Owens didn’t pan out is that he never filled out his 6’6” frame. If Owens was able to put on some muscle, I believe he could’ve touched mid 90’s with his fastball. Instead, Owens remained the awkward, lanky guy who we’ve been watching for years, resulting in his 87.9 mph average fastball velocity in his major league appearances this year. This may have been Owens’ final chance to prove he could pitch in the major leagues. If so, Henry may wind up a career minor leaguer full of untapped potential.
Now let's talk about a prospect that actually has panned out. Andrew Benintendi hit his first career triple as well as his first career home run while driving in two runs. Benintendi has shown no signs of slowing down since his call up. His 2 for 4 day at the plate improved his average to .322 in 18 games at the major league level. His stats are only going to get better after the return of Chris Young when he will only have to face right handers. Benintendi’s .OPS against righties is an impressive .943 as opposed to an underwhelming .619 against lefties. Despite the ugly loss, Sunday proved to be another big day for our left fielder of the future.
The Red Sox will now move on to Tampa Bay after a series split in Detroit. If the Sox are going to compete for the division title, they need to be able to beat teams like the Rays simply because they should. Since they are only half a game back of Toronto, this series isn't a must sweep. However, if Red Sox can do their job and win all 4 games, there is a very good chance that they fly back to Boston with a lead in the division standings. The Sox are leaving it up to David Price to get it started against his former team. Price is coming off a solid start in Baltimore that was shortened by rain. Despite some early season struggles against Tampa, David got the better of the Rays his last time out going 8 shutout innings while striking out 10. This is a big opportunity to head back home on a high note. If the Sox can bounce back as well as they did after Thursday afternoon’s loss, I think a sweep of the Rays may just be in the cards.