By: Jake Perda
The Red Sox management has officially announced that knuckleballer Steven Wright will miss the remainder of 2017 in favor of having surgery done on his left knee. Had this happened at the very beginning of Spring Training, this wouldn’t have seemed like a big issue. We came into the season with 6 legitimate Major League starting pitchers competing for 5 spots in the Major League rotation. This was until David Price sustained a left elbow injury early on in the Spring that has him sidelined until late May at the earliest. Now with the loss of Wright, the Red Sox have a big problem. Who is going to take the ball every fifth day until the return of David Price?
Despite the ridiculously high expectations that were set for Henry Owens as he rose through the Minors, it is pretty safe to say that he is not the solution. Not only is he not the solution for this problem, but he will never be the solution for any problem the Red Sox could potentially have. His occasional presence on the Major League roster is a problem in itself. In 85 big league innings (16 starts), Owens has compiled a 4-6 record with a 5.19 ERA while averaging 4.7 walks per nine innings. Although Owens has had some success at the Minor League level, he simply can’t get by at the Major League level if he’s going to continue walking batters at such an alarming rate. I think we can all agree that Henry Owens has been given his fair share of opportunities to prove himself, and he has let us down every single time.
The next name that you’ll hear every time that there’s an opening in Boston is Brian Johnson. He’s a great guy who seemingly gets along with everyone, but what does he really bring to the table? Sure, he’s had a lot of success down in Pawtucket. But it’s hard to imagine him sticking around in Boston with a 88 mph fastball and a slightly above average curveball. I’m not sure how many times it’s going to take Dennis Eckersley referring to Johnson’s stuff as “weak salad” to actually get people to realize that it’s true. That being said, he might be our best option right now. Johnson can make it through 5 innings while limiting the other team to somewhere around 4 runs. Unfortunately, that’s something I’m not convinced any other starter in the organization can do. Brian Johnson is indeed a poor man's Drew Pomeranz, and Sox fans are going to have to be okay with that.
Lastly, we have Kyle Kendrick. Kendrick is the man that everyone was talking about in Spring Training as he was consistently able to shut down opposing lineups in Fort Myers. Unfortunately, things have gone very differently for Kendrick since coming up north. In 4 starts in Pawtucket, Kendrick pitched to the tune of a 6.00 ERA. That’s not ideal. We were all hoping that he’d be able to shake it off and pitch well in his 2017 Boston debut on Thursday night against Baltimore, but that we simply not the case. Kendrick went 4 innings, allowing 6 runs, while sending everyone in Boston into a state of panic as they come to the realization that we don’t have any viable options to fill the 5th spot in the rotation.
For now, management may just have to pick one of these three and hope they can at least keep the team in the game for 5 innings until the bullpen can take over. Unfortunately, the odds of this happening seem just about as likely as finding a way to clone Chris Sale 4 times to construct the perfect rotation. Unless Dave Dombrowski can pull something out of ass here, it looks like we’ll just have to sit around and hope that David Price is doesn’t suffer any sort of setback in his recovery process. This is not good.