Year three was supposed to be the season he broke out.
The young, left-handed Felix Doubront came into spring training in noticeably better shape and seemed destined to finally put it all together for a full season after an 11-6 campaign in 2013.
Instead, Doubront has done the opposite, and fallen flat on his face out of the gates, taking steps backwards rather than progressing as a major league pitcher.
While the calendar still reads April, Doubront’s numbers are already a cause for concern for John Farrell, who slated Doubront as the third starter in a deep rotation to begin the year. So far, he’s pitched his way to a nice and lofty 6.00 ERA, with opponents hitting .294 against him, including a .901 OPS for left-handers against Doubront. (Yeah, figure that one out).
But wait, there’s more: Doubront’s biggest problem is perhaps the problems he creates for the rest of the pitching staff. He has thrown just 24 innings in his 5 starts thanks to his inability to make it out of the 3rd inning in two of those five starts, with the most recent coming against the New York Yankees, who chased Doubront out of the ball game after 2.2 innings of work. The stress he is putting on the bullpen already is inexcusable. The Red Sox can’t survive a 162-game season if their pen is forced to work 6+ innings in one game every five days.
And, yes, still more: Doubront has the 8th worst mark in the league when it comes to stranding runners on base. His LOB percentage is at a downright staggering 58.2%, per FanGraphs, meaning that a little less than half of the runners he allows to get on base safely come around to score. Obviously, luck plays its role with this, but Doubront has to be able avoid the big innings and strand more runners, and right now, it just isn’t happening for him.
So what’s the solution? Is it a matter of giving him more time? Do you look to trade him? Do you send him down?
Well, the best solution to the problem for now is to do absolutely nothing. If Doubront was a right-handed pitcher, his leash probably wouldn’t be as long, but young left-handers like Doubront are hard to come by in this league, and tend to take longer to develop as well in comparison to your everyday right-handed starter. I’ve seen what Doubront is capable of when he’s able to locate his pitches, get ahead in the count, and throw confidently, and it’s devastating (Look at his numbers from June to August of last year).
I understand patience is never easy, and it may even be thin within the Red Sox’ organization, particularly with a farm system ripe with talent. But it’s important to stay the course, at least for the time being.
Visit the Boston Red Sox team page for all Sox’ news all the time.