After starting out as a seemingly minor injury saga, Eduardo Rodriguez' dislocated knee has delayed him long enough that he will start the 2016 season on the disabled list, missing at least one start.
The Red Sox have not actually come out and stated that he's going to land on the disabled list, but John Farrell put all the logic on the table for us to the point where it's actually impossible to reach any other conclusion. Speaking to the media yesterday, Farrell said the following:
- Eduardo Rodriguez will throw off the mound today (Wednesday) for the first time since injuring his knee of February 29th.
- Rodriguez will need at least three bullpen sessions before they're willing to let him into a game.
- After those three sessions, Rodriguez will need about six starts to pick up the number of innings the Sox like their starters to have in spring and build his arm strength up.
- The Red Sox are focused on Rodriguez' health, not the rotation's heading into the season. They will not skip steps to rush him back.
Put one-through-four together and do a little math. Eduardo Rodriguez isn't going to be ready by the time the Red Sox need a fifth starter, much less a second or third.
Bad news, to be sure, but not that bad. The reality is that we put way more emphasis on the Opening Day roster than we should as fans. Assuming Rodriguez' rehab work goes according to plan, this won't really end up being much more than a typical 15-day DL stint in terms of production lost. In fact, it might even be less. While the Red Sox may well choose to stick to a regular rotation in the opening weeks, they don't actually need to pitch their fifth starter a second time until the 14th game of the season, which would be on April 19th against the Rays.
If we're measuring this by starts made by a replacement fifth man in the rotation, then, we could be looking at just one or two. No big deal. Realistically, though, we should probably be measuring this by starts missed by Rodriguez, as the difference between the back-end of the rotation and the replacements called up from Pawtucket probably aren't so great as those between Rodriguez and the back-end, depending on how much trust you have in the sophomore to repeat his early-season success.
And in that case he'll probably be missing out on a few starts. Three, maybe. Still no big deal.
As for who gets the call? We've looked into that before. Neither Elias nor Owens--the obvious frontrunners--have done terribly well in spring thus far, while Steven Wright has pitched to a 2.57 ERA in his seven innings of work. But that all comes with the important caveat that spring training numbers mean nothing, and while John Farrell will likely find it difficult to completely ignore what's happening on the field, the player who pitches best over these weeks won't just be handed the job. We've seen evidence enough from source after source that the results between March 1st and Opening Day just aren't predictive of what comes after for a modern day manager to believe otherwise.
Whoever gets the call, though, be it for one start or three, the Red Sox won't be sunk by a short Rodriguez absence, even if we get a full month to stew over it before it happens.