Allen Webster, RHP
Things weren't going so well for Allen Webster heading into his latest start, as he had more walks than strikeouts on the season and had failed to show the aggressiveness that served him well in last year's second half. That pitcher returned on Wednesday, though, when Webster struck out five batters against one walk in 6-1/3 innings. The 24-year-old allowed just one run, too, while putting just six baserunners total on. He's capable of doing this or something similar every time out, but to this point, he just hasn't.
Let's be fair, though. The 2013 season was his first at Triple-A, and the Red Sox might have messed him up a bit by bringing him up to the majors early then shuffling him back down when that didn't work out. He's 24, but that's not too old to figure things out as a starter, and the Red Sox won't have to call him up unless absolute disaster has struck at the big-league level, thanks to the presence of Brandon Workman at Pawtucket. Judgment for Webster doesn't belong in April, five starts in: let's reserve it for season's end, when we see what progress he's managed.
Matt Barnes, RHP
|2013||23||2 Teams||2 Lgs||AA-AAA||4.13||25||113.1||500||1.438||9.1||0.9||3.8||11.3||2.96|
Barnes is making his first start in 2014 on Friday for the PawSox, after missing almost all of spring training with shoulder stiffness. The 2011 first-round pick is the only one in the upper minors clearly vying with Henry Owens for the status of top pitching prospect in the organization -- if not the top prospect overall -- and he's returning to Triple-A after finishing up 2013 at the level. While walks came in bunches during the second half of the season, so too did the strikeouts and a far less hittable iteration of Barnes than what was present during the season's first half. If he can continue to progress from that point and cut his walks back down to expected and acceptable levels, then he might just push himself into the rotation conversation for 2015.
Brandon Workman, RHP
Workman began the year in the Red Sox bullpen thanks to Craig Breslow's stint on the disabled list, but if the Red Sox and manager John Farrell have their way from here on out, Workman will stick in a rotation. "A" rotation, because it doesn't matter whether it's Pawtucket's or Boston's: Workman is going to start until he proves he cannot, as the Sox aren't going to bounce him back-and-forth between the two roles, but they will put him at whichever of the two highest levels has room for him.
He threw just under 142 innings in the regular season last year between the majors and the minors, and another 8-2/3 in the playoffs. He missed a few starts thanks to his relief work early on with Boston this April, so even if he makes a start every five days from here on out, he'll still be on the acceptable pace in terms of jumping his innings from year-to-year.
What should make this trio interesting in one space for this season -- assuming they're all able to stick in Pawtucket, anyway -- is that these are the three who are going to fight for what will be either one or two open rotation spots, depending on whether Jon Lester departs as a free agent or not. Convenient how that worked out, huh?