New names have been the story all year long for Boston, so fans won’t be surprised to see another penciled in to start on Friday. This time, it will 22 year old Felix Doubront, a southpaw starter who has split time between AA Portland and AAA Pawtucket this season.
With Daisuke Matsuzaka on the D.L. and Josh Beckett still recovering from back problems, Boston was forced to scramble to fill the fifth spot in the rotation. That honor went to Scott Atchison over the weekend, an emergency move necessitated by Dice-K’s sudden scratch. Now with some time to plan, the Sox have done exactly what I hoped they might do.
A couple of weeks ago when Tim Wakefield was in the midst of some very rough innings, I began commenting around the Internet that it was time to bring up a minor-league arm. Though he has since bounced back and given Boston some effective innings, Wakefield is far from reliable, and the Matsuzaka injury merely made necessary what was already advisable.
Though fellow farmhand Adam Mills is also putting up good numbers for the PawSox, Doubront is an excellent choice and the right one. He’s still young and has plenty of development ahead of him, but he’s more than handled himself at every level this year.
At Portland, he was 4-0 in 8 starts, posting a 2.51 ERA and 1.30 WHIP while striking out 38 batters in 43 innings. At Pawtucket, he looked even better, compiling a razor-thin 1.08 ERA in 4 starts to go along with a 1.20 WHIP and 16 Ks in 16.2 IP.
Is he ready for the big leagues? Probasbly not in any permanent capacity. But Doubront has more than earned the right to a couple of spot starts. Boston’s need corresponds perfectly with his effort on the mound.
At the same time, Josh Beckett is on his way back to the rotation as well. Though the Sox haven’t released a complete timetable for his return, Beckett threw from 90 feet over the weekend- a significant step towards getting back on the bump.
All in all this is good news for a team that has played some darn good baseball of late. Still 4 games back, the Sox need to keep the pressure on if they want to climb back into the A.L. East race.