Don't give up on Felix Doubront yet

Jim Rogash

Felix Doubront had a disaster outing, and is off to one very bad start. But if 2013 is any indication, it's much too early to give up on the lefty.

Felix Doubront had a rough Tuesday night, no question about it. Even if you discount the chopper-turned-double, Grady Sizemore's terrible read, and Xander Bogaerts' less-than-impressive diving effort, Felix gave up some hard hit balls, failed to adapt to the strike zone, and generally crumbled. The end result was five Rangers runs, and a game lost before the bottom of the third.

The reaction from the fanbase was...about what you'd expect. Calls for Brandon Workman or any of Boston's half-dozen other starting options were heard, with Doubront condemned to either the bullpen or really anywhere there might be a home for him (hint: pretty much all 29 other teams). It's the same old Felix, and we're tired of him.

To some extent, that's fair. This is the same old Felix. In fact, this Felix looked almost exactly like the Felix we saw on May 3rd, 2013. You know, the one who gave up six runs in less than four innings to the Texas Rangers.

Tack on a poor outing against the Twins five days later, and Doubront's ERA sat at 6.40. He was walking a batter every other inning, and giving up line drives in a quarter of his at bats. Sure enough, the calls went out. Allen Webster! Rubby De La Rosa! Alfredo Aceves! Anyone to save us from Doubront.

Doubront's next start would wait until May 16. It was ugly, but not in the same way. Six walks in five innings, but seven strikeouts and two earned runs. It was enough to keep the Red Sox in the game, ultimately leading to a 4-3 win. It was also the start of something. Felix Doubront would not allow more than three earned runs in a game again until August 16.

In fact, aside from a one-inning disaster out of the bullpen (as the Sox attempted to convert him from the rotation with the postseason on the horizon), Doubront closed out the year as one of Boston's best starters. From that May 16 start through September 22, The young lefty started 22 games, throwing 128 innings of 3.50 ERA ball, holding opponents to a line of .238/.315/.373.

There was hope that, with Doubront finally showing up to camp in shape, 2014 would be his big year. It may still be that. But just because it hasn't gotten off to a stellar start does not mean the Sox need to be rushing to replace him. We've seen Doubront start slow out of the gates before. We've also seen him recover to be a worthwhile member of the rotation. We're eight games into the season--that's two Doubront starts--and 3-5. It sucks, but it's no reason to start making snap decisions.

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