Thursday wasn’t a completely positive day for the Red Sox — what with Drew Pomeranz hitting the disabled list and all — but on the field the team game through with a convincing win over the Nationals. It marked the final game of Grapefruit League action for Boston, as they head up to Washington to take on the Nationals again on Friday.
Kyle Kendrick is the greatest pitcher of all time
The aforementioned injury to Pomeranz is just another reminder that depth beyond even the top six starting pitchers is important. Only one guy has stepped up to be worthy of the number seven job this spring, and the man’s name is Kyle Kendrick. On Thursday, he yet again showed that he deserves to be the most important pitcher in Pawtucket when the season begins. He tossed another strong four innings on Thursday, allowing just one run on a double, five singles and no walks. The righty also struck out five Nationals in the start. He’s now made eight appearances this spring with 33 innings over that span and has pitched to a 2.18 ERA with a 31/4 K/BB ratio. That seems good. Of course, it’s hard to take spring training numbers too seriously and it’s also hard to ignore his lackluster track record heading into this season. Still, we’ve seen Brian Bannister work his magic before (hello, Rich Hill), so who’s to say it can’t happen again. We don’t know when we’ll see Kendrick in the majors, but he’s doing everything he possibly can to show that he’s ready for whenever that call comes.
Bullpen depth makes its case
The Red Sox are also seeing their depth in the bullpen get tested a little to start the year with Tyler Thornburg also beginning the season on the 10-day disabled list. On Thursday, a few potential beneficiaries took the mound. First up was Heath Hembree, who threw a perfect inning with two strikeouts. Joe Kelly will be the go-to eighth inning guy to start the season, but Hembree will be in the mix for the spot immediately following him. Robby Scott threw next, and while he wasn’t perfect he did threw 2⁄3 of an inning without allowing a run. He also allowed a double and two walks. Scott will be on the roster on Opening Day as the team’s third lefty in the bullpen. Jamie Callahan came on to finish Scott’s frame and ended up retiring all four batters he faced with one strikeout. Callahan has been impressive out of the bullpen this spring and has a shot at contributing this summer. The same goes for Ben Taylor, who finished things off with two scoreless innings in which he allowed three singles but also struck out four Nationals.
Strong overall day for the lineup
It was a dynamic starting lineup for the Red Sox on Thursday. In fact, it looked a lot like how one might expect it to look when the games start mattering. However, many of those starters left early. Still, the minor leaguers held their own and overall the team was able to score eight runs against Washington. Jantzen Witte was the standout performer, as he had hits in two of his three plate appearances including one home run. He’s probably no more than an organizational depth piece, but it’s always nice to see those guys succeed when given their time in the spotlight. Andrew Benintendi and Dustin Pedroia were the only two starters with multiple hits, with the former knocking one triple and one single and the latter tallying a double and a single. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the lineup looks like it might be ready for the season to start.