Today is not a great day for Red Sox fans. News was broken earlier this morning that David Price would need a second opinion on his elbow after experiencing forearm pain following his simulated game on Tuesday. While we don’t have any concrete details about the actual injury just yet, it’s not looking good. If Price does indeed get the worst-case scenario type of news, the Red Sox still have five good starters available. Of course, Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz are still behind schedule, and the latter’s schedule is particularly worrisome. That means we could see Henry Owens making a major-league start early in the year. Oh god, no. The Red Sox aren’t in a position in which they need to make a major trade for someone like Jose Quintana, but it might not hurt to check in on the remaining pitching depth in free agency. Are there any decent arms left?
The headliner for the leftover starting pitchers is definitely Doug Fister, which says more about the leftover starting pitching market than it does about Fister. Still, the righty was one of the most underrated pitchers in the game just a couple of years ago and will be just 33 in 2017. Last season was a rough one for Fister, who spent the year in Houston. Although he made 32 starts, he lost his famous control and that is a bad mix when you only strike out 5.7 batters per nine innings. His zone rate was a whopping five percentage points lower than his career average. If he can get back to walking around two batters per inning and inducing ground balls about half the time, he can be a serviceable back-end arm. It’s far from a sure thing, but when you’re looking at March free agents there are no sure things.
Lincecum has great name value, but that’s about all the former Cy Young winner brings to the table. He’s about five years removed from being a good pitcher, and is coming off a horrible nine-game stint with the Angels. He’s no better than the group of Owens, Brian Johnson, Roenis Elias and Hector Velazquez.
Harrison didn’t pitch at all last year and has thrown exactly 44 major-league innings since the start of 2013. Once upon a time he was an intriguing back-end arm. That time has passed. He’s no better than the group of Owens, Brian Johnson, Roenis Elias and Hector Velazquez.
Old friend alert! Peavy, of course, was part of the 2013 championship team. Things haven’t gone well for Peavy since then, and he was horrible in San Francisco last year, splitting his time between the rotation and bullpen. As it turns out, 2016 was a bad year off the field for Peavy as well, and as a result he’s not even focused on baseball right now. He’s no better than the group of Owens, Brian Johnson, Roenis Elias and Hector Velazquez.
Simon had a couple of decent years as a reliever for the Reds. Unfortunately, those were in 2012 and 2013. Since then, he’s been a lackluster starter and turned into a disastrous one last year as he went back to Cincinnati. He’s no better than the group of Owens, Brian Johnson, Roenis Elias and Hector Velazquez.
Lewis was actually pretty good for a chunk of last season, at least if you only judge these sort of things by ERA. Then, he got hurt and came back with no semblance of success. Besides Fister, Lewis is probably the best bet on this list but that’s not saying much. He’s an extreme fly ball pitcher who doesn’t strike anybody out, which is a rough combo for the AL East. He might be worth throwing into the depth, but it’s unlikely to make any sort of impact.
Alvarez hasn’t been able to pitch much since 2014, as he’s dealt with a Tommy John surgery of his own. He’s throwing for teams now, though, and will likely get a minor-league deal at some point soon. He’s only going to be 27 this year, which gives him an advantage over the rest of this list. As a groundball pitcher with a lack of strikeout stuff, he’s limited to a back-end role, but that’s all the Red Sox need. He would need some time to work his way back to major-league ready, if he can ever get there, so he wouldn’t prevent any possible Owens start to begin the year. However, he’s an interesting name to throw into this jumble of rotation depth they already have at Pawtucket.
The Red Sox don’t need any additional pitching depth right now, but that could change if things don’t progress soon for Drew Pomeranz. Unfortunately, Fister is likely the only free agent worth pursuing. There are other names out there, but if you’re going to go that route you might as well rely on what they already have. Miss you, Clay Buchholz.