With each passing day of spring training, the Boston Red Sox appear to be narrowing down their viable options for a fourth and fifth starter either by need or merit.
Aaron Cook is the latest to reportedly be out of the mix, while Carlos Silva has been out of the picture for a couple of weeks now.
It would appear that there are really four front runners for the remaining two rotation slots: Daniel Bard, Alfredo Aceves, Vicente Padilla and Felix Doubront. While the Red Sox have been high on Andrew Miller, I don’t view him as a legitimate option for the starting rotation. His services are best rendered coming out of the bullpen to provide long relief as well as spot starts when necessary.
Daniel Bard has looked good statistically, but to the naked eye his stuff looks a little shaky. Sure, it is still very early in the season and he is trying to develop his pitches a bit more, however, at some point soon he is going to need to prove that he can be consistent with what cheese he so deems to pound.
The question of Andrew Bailey’s health also calls into question the true value of Bard to this team. If Bailey cannot close or is injured to start the season, will the Red Sox look to Mark Melancon or turn to the tried and true Bard?
Alfredo Aceves has been solid. The man has ice in his veins. He never seems to get too rattled and has put up solid numbers while, again, to the naked eye, looking quite impressive.
Last night, the Red Sox faced the New York Yankees in a game that saw the teams battle it out to almost a draw… almost. The Red Sox would go on to win 1-0 on the heels of extremely solid performances by Felix Doubront and Vicente Padilla.
How is that for throwing a wrench into the starting rotation mix?
Doubront, a player that I believe needs to prove his-self this season or consider hi-self to be expendable is doing just that: proving his worth. His four solid innings had him throwing in the mid 90’s and at times making batters just look silly. He allowed just two hits in four innings, although using 75 pitches to get it done.
“I thought Felix was outstanding. He had really good control of his changeup, a devastating pitch for him. Good command and control of his fastball. His breaking ball was good and his composure was good. I thought he did excellent.”
Vicente Padilla had a fine bounce-back game as well after being absolutely shelled in his last spring training outing. He managed four strikeouts including a three-pitch sequence against Alex Rodriguez in the sixth inning over his three innings of relief.
While Padilla came on board with the Red Sox to compete for a starting spot, Valentine is not sure if fans will actually see Padilla start a spring training game as the innings are becoming scarce, according to CSNNE’s Maureen Mullen.
This begs the question: does Valentine already have a role in mind for Padilla? Has he seen enough from the body of work (and not just counting the seven innings, four runs and eight hits from this spring training) to know how he intends to utilize the native Nicaraguan?
That may very well be the case, which would leave just three men vying for two openings. If I were the one to have to make the call, purely by using the eyeball test, your fourth and fifth starters, as of today, would be Alfredo Aceves and Felix Doubront.