Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher Franklin Morales (46) pitches during the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-US PRESSWIRE
Franklin Morales made a spot start for Josh Beckett last Sunday, as Beckett was dealing with back spasms. Now it appears as if Morales has earned himself a spot in the rotation, but as of now, there's no word on who he is replacing. Aaron Cook is the pitcher who makes the most sense to replace, but, according to manager Bobby Valentine, Cook is scheduled to pitch in next week's series against the Baltimore Orioles that begins next Tuesday.
Is that just the last gasp of the six-man rotation, and Cook will be removed from it shortly enough, replacing Morales as a long man/spot starter in the pen? One reason to believe this is true is Josh Beckett's performance when he has more than five days of rest. According to Brian MacPherson, with more than five days of rest (due to injury, the utilization of the six-man rotation), Beckett owns an ERA of 10.13. He's come back at least twice now from extended periods of rest and failed to keep the ball down, resulting in fireworks shows for the opposition. Beckett seems to have a little Aceves in him this year, where he needs to work consistently in order to keep the rust off. A six-man rotation isn't a good idea in the long run anyway, so there's a two birds with one stone kind of feel to this if that's the case.
Knowing that, it just seems like Cook is the logical removal, as rookie Felix Doubront needs his innings monitored, but is only at 118 on the season. Jon Lester seems to be recovering from his mechanical issues a bit, while Clay Buchholz is months past his own problems. Cook can be put on something of a schedule in relief if he needs it, coming in for Doubront in order to keep the lefty's innings in check as he pushes through his first full season as a starter in the bigs -- the other starters don't need that kind of babysitter, but Cook could use that kind of permanent stretching out of his arm.
Since Morales was stretched out to start, he has thrown 46 innings with 51 strikeouts against just 15 walks, while posting a 2.70 ERA. He might not dominate the opposition like he did in June every time out, but he's got the stuff to give Boston a chance to win every five days, and to do it attractively when he's at his best.
Morales failed as a starter with the Rockies back in 2008 and 2009, when he was permanently moved to the bullpen by Colorado, but there's reason to believe a lot of that was on his age -- there was no indication he was ready for the majors as a starter, especially with just decent numbers from the upper minors -- as well as the Rockies and their environment. Morales was never given a real chance, and now he's finally getting one with his second organization.
Moving him to the rotation is the smart move with less than two months to go, as you get a chance to see if you've got yourself another of your five Opening Day starters for 2013, and also likely help your 2012 chances in the process.