Roenis Elias will take the mound Friday night as the Red Sox' fifth starter, and he'll do so against his old team in the Seattle Mariners.
There was little question Elias would get the start after his last two outings saw him throw 16 innings of one-run ball in Pawtucket, striking out 15 while allowing just 11 walks and 2 hits. With Clay Buchholz barely pitching out of the bullpen, Joe Kelly struggling against Triple-A hitters, and Henry Owens only showing the briefest glimpse of his old self, there just wasn't much in the way of competition.
While the Red Sox could have waited until the 18th to get Elias in the rotation, it makes sense to bump him up a bit. His last start came on the tenth, and while this will still leave him with a long lay-off, it won't be egregiously so. Rick Porcello will be bumped back to Saturday, with David Price starting on Sunday.
For Elias, it's a chance to prove to his new team that he's a reliable major league option. His first appearance in the majors for Boston was one bad bullpen outing, but it came at a time when Elias seemed to be extremely off his game, even in Triple-A. Over the last month, he's lowered his ERA by more than 1.50, dropping it all the way to 3.54 while going on a tear against Pawtucket's opponents.
If he can do so, there's no clear ending point for his time in the rotation. The Red Sox have chewed through rotation options, and while one of them certainly has hit big--where would they be without Steven Wright?--they really need a second to come through and at least give them a shot every fifth day.
If he can't? Well, it'll be up to Kelly, Owens, Buchholz, or even some fifth party to prove they deserve the next shot.