It wasn't a start that garnered a lot of attention, but when Allen Webster took the mound tonight, there were implications that extended beyond just this one game.
Unfortunately, with the Red Sox in need, Allen Webster did anything but come through. Spotted a two-run lead in the first, Webster immediately gave it all back and more, surrendering a grand slam to Victor Martinez, triggering a Detroit attack that would eventually put up double digits, leaving the Red Sox 10-3 losers.
So why was this start so important? Because right now the rotation is three men deep. Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront, and John Lackey have, thankfully, come through with much-needed solid performances. While they are not the portion of the rotation the Sox would hope to be relying on, they are nonetheless the three starters providing them with innings at the moment.
Beyond them, though...well, Webster just took his name out of the running. To be fair to him, he showed the ridiculous stuff that makes him such an interesting prospect, inducing swinging strike after swinging strike. But until he learns to harness it consistently, he's not reliable enough to be making major league starts.
That wouldn't be so much of an issue, but Clay Buchholz still can't find his way back to the mound. His tentative Tuesday start is off the table now as his injury kept him from pitching his bullpen session earlier today, and given how long he's been out, it seems like a minor league rehab stint is inevitable whenever he does manage to start pitching again at all.
And then there's Jon Lester. Dismal, untenable Jon Lester. How bad has it been? Well, remember how awful it was when John Lackey was starting late in 2011? How every game felt like a sure loss? How nobody could understand why the Sox were willing to throw him out there week after week? After his stint on the disabled list in 2011, from June fifth on, John Lackey had a 5.89 ERA. In his last seven outings, Lester has had a 7.30 mark. It's past time to get him out of the rotation and onto, presumably, the disabled list to work on his issues.
But who's left to replace him? Even if Franklin Morales hadn't pitched terribly tonight, allowing four of the ten runs, he seems to have hurt his shoulder in the process.
So that leaves Alfredo Aceves and Rubby De La Rosa, the latter having not gone more than six innings yet in the minor leagues.
The Sox aren't quite up against the wall just yet. And if Clay Buchholz gets healthy soon, then this will all be much less of an issue. But for the moment they've seen their depth completely evaporate, to the point where they're either accepting some percentage of their starts will be bad, or left gambling on a peripheral nightmare like Aceves and a guy like Rubby who still hasn't worked his way back to full starting-length outings after Tommy John Surgery.
The Red Sox are still on top of the East, and on top of the American League. But this division is awfully close, and even running for a few weeks with major rotation problems can dramatically change the course of the season. The Sox are facing some dangerous waters, and Allen Webster didn't give them any help navigating them tonight.
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