Anthony Ranaudo, RHP
Ranaudo hasn't been with Triple-A Pawtucket for very long, but his first four starts at the level have been productive ones. You'd like him to strike out more batters, sure, but it's too small of a sample to be concerned about that, especially when he's avoiding walks and the long ball. Of the five runs he's given up, four came in one start -- otherwise, he's been near flawless for the PawSox.
It's unclear at this point if the Red Sox will add Ranaudo to the 40-man roster and make him part of September's expanded roster call-ups. Here's the thing: Ranaudo's career-high in innings is this year's 133, which isn't all that much loftier than 2011's 127 frames. He missed most of 2012 with injury, so if the Red Sox want to squeeze a few more innings out of him while simultaneously introducing him to life in the majors, well, it's pretty obvious what they should do. With that being said, though, the 40-man is already pretty packed, there are plenty of relief options, and Ranaudo has already set a new career-high, anyway. It would be nice and all to get him to the bigs before the year is out, but it's certainly not in the realm of need.
Dan Butler, C
Butler took over as the starting catcher for Pawtucket when David Ross went down and Ryan Lavarnway headed to Boston to replace him. Lavarnway is back in Triple-A now, though, so Butler, despite his breakout campaign, is back in a split role behind the plate. One does wonder, though, if Lavarnway is guaranteed to show up on the big-league roster when the entire 40 is allowed to join the Red Sox -- Butler is also on the 40-man, and has had the better season, and it might be his turn to get a shot or two behind the plate in Boston. The Red Sox did their best to avoid using Lavarnway when he was last in the majors, with Salty catching as many games as possible, including both ends of a doubleheader.
It's not a question at this point that Butler deserves a shot, especially since the Red Sox felt it necessary to protect him from the Rule 5 draft before he even took on Triple-A and succeeded like he has this summer. Whether he'll get it in the next couple of weeks, or if the Sox decide they'll let Lavarnway's familiarity with the staff win out, is what we don't know.
Rubby De La Rosa, RHP
De La Rosa's season has had some serious ups and equally eye-popping downs. His time in the majors hasn't been all that impressive yet, at least in terms of results: the stuff is absolutely there, and you can see why he garners as much attention as he does. It's entirely possible at this point that he's just a bit tired -- sure, it's been quite some time since his 2011 Tommy John surgery, but this is his first attempt at building his innings back up. Despite the slow start with the two-inning appearances that built up to starts of normal length, maybe he's just low on gas.
Pawtucket used him in relief upon his return to Triple-A, so maybe the Sox agree, or maybe they're just setting themselves up to have another relief option with a live arm for September and possibly beyond. Worst-case, they think his future is as a reliever rather than as a starter, but with all of the starting pitching depth that they have in the upper levels of the system, De La Rosa as potentially dominant fireman isn't all that bad of an outcome compared to the same outcome a year ago.
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