Franklin Morales: the Red Sox' new fourth starter?

J. Meric

With Felix Doubront struggling and Allen Webster sent down to Pawtucket, is Franklin Morales in line to be Boston's new fourth starter?

Felix Doubront is struggling. His velocity is down, he's inconsistent in throwing strikes, and, oh yeah, he's allowed twelve earned runs in his last nine innings.

Allen Webster is back in the minors and likely not due to be called back up anytime soon after completely imploding against the Twins.

The Red Sox are, in essence, down to four starters. The options in the minors, between Steven Wright and Alfredo "Satan Eyes" Aceves, are underwhelming at best. They could always call up Daniel Bard and give him a start, but aside from being the worst possible idea I think that also goes against some portion of the Geneva Conventions.

The options are not completely exhausted, though. And, in fact, the situation seems a little...perfect. Because last night, right in line with Webster and Doubront's circus act, Franklin Morales made his first rehab start in Portland after a long struggle with injury.

Morales, of course, made a bit of a name for himself last year while filling in for the Red Sox as a starter. To the point where he was intended to start this year stretched out as a starter, and went a pair of innings in his first rehab outing. His 4.14 ERA in that role was actually hurt by late struggles likely due to fatigue and an encroaching back injury, and while those remain concerns for Morales should he be put in the role again, the Sox don't necessarily need a solution for the rest of the season, just as long as they can get.

Of course, coming back after just one rehab start is trouble, but Morales can actually afford to get another one in. The Sox have a day off on Monday, which means they can skip the fourth spot in their rotation, sending it right back to Lackey on Tuesday and going from there. If two rehab starts is still not ideal, especially for a pitcher who missed spring training, necessity might force the issue.

In all likelihood the Sox will simply choose to bite the bullet and give a start to one of their less desirable options come next Saturday. Rushing a player back up for just one outing is not the best of ideas, especially since Morales would still likely be limited to four or five innings. Even if they do that, however, Morales will still be in line for the next outing after that. Unless Felix Doubront can figure out what it is that's ailing him in a hurry, it's likely just a matter of time before Morales takes over.

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