There's no official announcement just yet, but if you've been waiting to fill in that fifth starting spot in the Red Sox' rotation, now might be the time to pencil in Steven Wright.
Yesterday's roster cuts effectively announced the end to the candidacy of both Brian Johnson and Henry Owens.Technically, that doesn't completely close the door on either one of them. If the Red Sox were planning on using either Johnson or Owens for the final starting spot, they could have sent them down with a plan to call them up right before they're needed, allowing the team to go with a long bullpen for a brief period.
However, that's a small return for ensuring that both men will burn an option year in 2016, and beyond that, there's the simple fact that neither one managed a convincing audition in spring for John Farrell. It's also worth noting that, if Steven Wright is the choice, the Red Sox can't use the long bullpen plan, as Wright is out of options, and will have to stay with the team even before his place in the rotation comes around. Were that not the case, a player breaking camp with the team might actually be a sign that they wouldn't be in the rotation.
But if we apply Occam's razor here, we end up with a fairly simple scenario: it's one of Steven Wright and Roenis Elias, and Steven Wright is the one who's being stretched out in spring.
While early on in the year even David Price might have his outings kept short, by this point the starters should be pitching relatively deep into games. And that's exactly what we saw from Wright earlier this week, as he threw five innings against the Marlins. Elias did throw four innings as recently as a week ago, but on Thursday he was scheduled to enter from the pen following Joe Kelly's start, and perhaps in some part due to Kelly's efficiency, threw just the one inning. If the Red Sox were really dedicated to getting him ready for a rotation spot in April, chances are they'd at least have pulled Kelly after the fifth or partway through the sixth to make sure Elias got a couple more innings in.
Instead, it seems like the Red Sox will be rolling the dice--or flipping the coin, as may be more appropriate--with Steven Wright's knuckleball. On any given day it can be great, and on any given day it can be terrible. Not what you want from a front-line starter, but plenty good enough for the back end of the rotation.