Shoulder scare could sideline David Price – Dr. James Andrews visit to come putting Red Sox starters season in jeopardy
This morning I heard about David Price dealing with some elbow soreness. That’s alarming. Should the Sox hit the panic button already? Did the Sox blow signing him for 7 years at $217 million? I really don’t want to say yes. I really don’t. The reason? We’ve invested too much money in our players primarily our pitching staff as it is and Price is an excellent starter. Boston Red Sox’ $30 million dollar man David Price, is seeking options on what to do about his ailing elbow. Price was supposed to visit with Dr. James Andrews who’s unfortunately unavailable due to the NFL combine.
The pitching staff right now consists of Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez. Steven Wright would be fighting for the fifth spot but it looks like to maintain his health he’ll start the season in the bullpen. The first three guys are just plain filthy. Now the Sox aren’t screwed by any means. Wright could fill in if the Sox feel that he can do it. Personally I thought he was great before John Farrell decided to have him pinch run in a game late down the stretch less than two months before the season ended.
There are still several front line starters who are available on the market but before we explore those options, let’s consider everyone we’ve got so far. In David Price’s 9 years in the bigs, he has only suffered one stint on the disabled list dating back to 2013 for a triceps strain. There are a lot of miles on that arm as well. According to ESPN, since 2009 Price has pitched 1,671 1/3 innings ranking 5th in baseball adding 26,090 pitches, good for 7th in that span. This is someone who has statistically stayed healthy for almost the last decade but again quite a bit of mileage. This could explain his fastball losing a few ticks in the last couple years.
Assuming Price goes down for either a limited or extended period of time what options do the Sox have? This is where the fun comes in. Exploring options. So this is what will happen if or when Price going down.
Chris Sale is locked in to be our top starter, nothing to add here, it’s a given. Rick Porcello shifts from being the best 3rd pitcher in a rotation to a top 5-10 2nd starter in the rotation. Again, we’re expecting him to do something similar to last season. Drew Pomeranz who recently rejected being a bullpen guy, shifts from being the 4th man to the 3rd man in the rotation. We’re all hoping that his trade from last season doesn’t bite us again considering what we gave up for what seemed like damaged goods. Eduardo Rodriguez jumps from 5th to 4th in the rotation.
E Rod is poised to have a nice come back season as well, at least that’s what I and everyone else is hoping. He’s been taking pointers from Chris Sale so naturally I got that warm fuzzy feeling when I heard that. If Pomeranz and Rodriguez can both have semi decent seasons it could make up for the loss of Price until he’s healthy enough to pitch. Including Price when healthy, the Sox have a chance to have four potential starters to notch 200+ innings this season. Yes, I’m setting the bar high this year especially for our underachievers from last season. So now we’re left with Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, Drew Pomeranz, and Eduardo Rodriguez for our first four guys.
Now the fun part, playing GM and exploring all of our options. I think before we go and spend more money and go over the salary cap we look in house at someone who’s already done the starter thing. Sure the Sox could go with a 4 man rotation but it’s not likely this early in the season. Let’s explore.
Option #1. Joe Kelly. Kelly came over along with Allen Craig to the Sox via the John Lackey trade during the 2014 trade deadline. At first everyone thought it was genius until the Cardinals won out as Lackey found the fountain of youth pitching well again where as Allen Craig forgot how to hit not even making it to the majors last season adding Kelly’s this-is-not-what-we-paid-for pitching style. I would say that Joe Kelly is not the suitable option for our 5th man especially considering how lights out Kelly was as a reliever last season. From July 25th on in 16 2/3 innings, Kelly allowed 2 runs on 13 hits adding 5 walks and 21 strike outs with a 1.08 ERA. Joe Kelly thanks for being lock down in the bullpen and the bullpen is where you shall stay. Chance for being the 5th Starter? Slim.
Option #2. Brandon Workman. This one hurts. Workman didn’t pitch in 2015 and when he did come back in 2016 it was a disaster. His last two appearances Workman allowed 7 earned runs on 10 hits, walking 2, striking out 3 in 5 1/3 innings for a 11.81 ERA. Anyone heard of the Wilhelm scream? If not click here for a clip. This should refresh your memory. That should be the sound that comes out when option #2 gets seriously considered if considered at all. Chance for being the 5th starter? Zilch.
Option #3. Hector Velazquez. Now this one is interesting. Velazquez got bought by the Red Sox for $30,000 from the Mexican Baseball League’s Piratas de Campeche. Side note, the Sox beat out the Yankees for him. Small victory. In 2016, Velazquez posted a 5-1 record in 22 starts with a 2.47 ERA .997 WHIP. He added 16 walks and a whopping 120 strike outs in 131 innings. No, the MBL is not the MLB but in that sample I’d be willing to take a flyer on him.
In Velazquez’s first spring training start, he went 2 innings allowing one run on 3 hits, tallying one walk and 4 strike outs. I like Velazquez short term, he’s 28 years old and is definitely going to fight for his shot to make the rotation. With a few more appearances like his first, it’ll be hard not giving him the promotion although a shot at Pawtucket makes the most sense and is the most likely. Chance for being the 5th starter? Small.
Option #4. Henry Owens. Run. Run. Run. Henry Owens is not the answer, not now anyways. Owens was drafted in the 1st round back in 2011 showing some promise. He must enjoy pitching in the minors because when he’s doing that he’s fine. As soon as he comes to the bigs, it’s like he’s afraid of his shadow or the pressure is too much. A 4-6 record with a 5.19 ERA? Not screaming back end rotation material right now. I think another year in the minors is necessary before we even look at this kid again. He’s 24 years old, he’ll be fine. Chance to be the 5th starter? Very slim.
Option #5. Kyle Kendrick. Sox got Kendrick to a minor league deal a little over a month ago. Could he be the short term solution? He had a rough 2015 campaign and didn’t even see major league action in 2016. I’m gonna go with a long shot here. Chances at being the 5th starter? Small.
Option #6. Sox go out and get a starter that’s still available on the market. Options include Tim Lincecum, Doug Fister, Colby Lewis, Jake Peavy, Henderson Alvarez, Matt Harrison & a few others. C.J. Wilson just announced his retirement early last month to focus on racing sports cars and his new dealership so he’s out. Let’s do a quick rundown of our potential candidates.
- Tim Lincecum – I wouldn’t touch this even if he offered to pitch for free. In 38 1/3 innings he walked 23 and struck out 32 with a 9.16 ERA. We’ll pass. Seriously, Mr. Dombrowski if you’re reading this, please don’t sign him. He’s done.
- Doug Fister – Although his 2016 season wasn’t great it wasn’t a complete disaster. He did win 12 games. If he’d be willing to go for an incentive based contract with an opt out, I’d consider this.
- Colby Lewis – His 2016 campaign was better than Fister but is 36 years old, 4 years older than Fister. For the same kind of incentive and or opt out clause in his contract, he’d be a safe option.
- Jake Peavy – Didn’t have the best season last year in San Francisco but has history and a World Series Ring. As soon as his family situation is handled maybe the Sox could get him for the veteran minimum. I liked his fire. A reunion could benefit both parties.
- Henderson Alvarez – After pitching well in 2014, the wheels fell off in 2015 and in 2016 didn’t pitch at all. He does have the 26 year old thing going for him though. I’m always weary of giving someone a shot after missing an entire season. I’ll pass.
- Matt Harrison – His last season worth mentioning was in 2012 when he went 18-11 with 133 strike outs in 213 1/3 innings pitched with a 3.29 ERA. From 2014 until now he’s got a career record of 9-9 with 27 strike outs in 44 innings with a 6.14 ERA. We’ll pass here.
With what we’ve got here, I’d say only Doug Fister or Colby Lewis have a shot at becoming the 5th starter in the rotation as their records are very similar over the last 3 seasons and carry low risk. This would assume the Red Sox want to spend more money. Ultimately, the decision will depend on how long Price is out.
Personally, I think that they’ll promote from within either going with Wright in the short term with Kendrick or long shot sleeper Velazquez long term, to fill in with spot starts. The Sox will exhaust all options before getting someone from outside who will want undoubtedly want too much money and more than they’re worth. In conclusion, the Red Sox are not going to hit the panic button, not yet anyways.
Photo Credit: David Price – Wikipedia