Now that Eduardo Rodriguez will be starting the season on the DL, the Red Sox have an opening in the rotation. While it appeared that Joe Kelly would be competing for the fifth position in the starting rotation, he has emerged as the second best Red Sox starter this spring training. So now, the Sox will look to fill in the position left behind Price, Buchholz, Kelly, and Porcello with someone from within the organization. While the back end of the rotation is already a hot pile of filth and the Red Sox would be smart to acquire an Andrew Cashner-type pitcher, instead the Red Sox will allow one of Steven Wright, Roenis Elias, or Henry Owens to win the spot. One thing is for certain, the back end of the rotation will be a mess, much like the entire 2015 rotation, and will surely bring out the frustrations of Red Sox nation.
2015 Stats: 5-4 4.09 ERA, 9 GS, 72.2 IP, 52 K, 27 BB, 1.294 WHIP
2016 Spring Stats: 0-2 3.07 ERA, 3 GS, 14.2 IP, 8 K, 4 BB, 1.64 WHIP
Steven Wright and his unpredictable knuckleball are the odds on favorite to win the fifth starter spot for the upcoming season. Wright showed solid stuff last season before an errant batting practice ball ended his season with a concussion. Wright has given up a ton of hits this spring, but with the knuckleball as his primary pitch that can be expected. Wright is probably best served as a swing man but his success in the rotation last season will likely carry him to winning the spot. Best case scenario is that he makes four or five starts and Rodriguez returns fully healthy and pushes Wright back to the bullpen. Wright is out of options so placing him at AAA will come with exposing him to the rest of the league where some team will most likely take a flier on him. While Wright is nowhere near becoming the next Wakefield, he should be able to hold down the fifth starter spot for a few weeks to begin the season.
2015 Stats: 5-8 4.14 ERA, 20 GS, 115.1 IP, 97 K, 44 BB, 1.301 WHIP
2016 Spring Stats: 1-1 6.23 ERA, 2 GS, 8.2 IP, 10 K, 3 BB, 1.96 WHIP
Roenis Elias, much like Wright, was solid last season pitching for the Seattle Mariners. Elias may also be served best as a swing option for the Red Sox. However, unlike Wright he has options remaining and can start the season in AAA. Elias has had an inconsistent spring so far and has given up a lot of base runners. One option would be to make him a permanent fixture of the bullpen but with Robbie Ross and Tommy Layne already holding down spots, Elias looks to be ticketed to the minors for the start of the 2016 campaign.
2015 Stats: 4-4 4.57 ERA, 11 GS, 63 IP, 50 K, 24 BB, 1.365 WHIP
2016 Spring Stats: 0-1 5.40 ERA, 4 GS, 13.1 IP, 14 K, 9 BB, 1.58 WHIP
Henry Owens was once looked upon to be the next key homegrown member of the Red Sox rotation but control issues have plagued the young lefty as he tries to get his career on the right track. The story has been the same this spring. Owens has shown the hit and miss stuff that makes him look like a future fixture of the middle of the rotation but he gets himself into too many jams by walking too many batters. His inconsistency will keep him on the back end of this competition and until there is an injury to open up a need for depth in the rotation, Owens will likely be starting in AAA.
UPDATE: Henry Owens was optioned to AAA this morning and effectively ended his chance to win the fifth starter spot. The spot now appears ticketed for Wright to take unless injury derails him in his next few starts.