Boston Red Sox: Starting pitching depth still an issue

A recent run of quality starts is a great sign for the Boston Red Sox but the team is still lacking in rotation depth.

The calendar might only still say May, but it’s never too early to begin stockpiling arms for the rotation. This is something the Boston Red Sox might want to start looking into.

Joining Nathan Eovaldi on the Injured List earlier this week was David Price. While Price’s stint on the IL will be considerably shorter than Eovaldi’s, a spot start by Josh Smith showed exactly why the Red Sox need more starting pitchers.

Smith showed signs of effectiveness, but ultimately left his start after only 3.1 innings. He allowed 5 hits and 4 earned runs in a game Boston lost to the Baltimore Orioles, 4-1.

Hector Velazquez (0-2, 4.03 ERA) has been used more as an opener than a true starter, usually pitching somewhere between three and four innings. He has mostly pitched well in these outings but relying on bullpen for five to six innings can be taxing.

All of this comes at a time when the trio of healthy starters — Chris Sale, Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez — has strung together multiple quality starts. Sale (1-5, 4.50 ERA) was the most recent to pitch well, tossing eight innings of three-hit ball, striking out 14.

Sale’s last three starts have seen him pitch 21 innings while striking out 32. He’s allowed only 10 hits and 3 earned runs in this span.

Porcello (2-3, 5.11 ERA) and Rodriguez (3-2, 5.40 ERA) have also spun gems as of late, with the two combining to pick up four wins in their last six starts.

Price was pitching well before being sidelined and, when all five starters are in sync, Boston will be difficult to beat. Even with the offense getting hot, a little pitching depth might be nice.

Minor league or free agent help

Down at Boston’s Triple-A affiliate Pawtucket, there isn’t really an overwhelming consensus as to who could add valuable depth to the rotation.

Smith appeared to be the top choice after making three starts in Pawtucket. He posted a 3.78 ERA in these starts while striking out 23, with a complete game thrown in for good measure.

Mike Shawaryn possibly could get an opportunity. Shawaryn, a fifth-round pick of Boston in 2016, has made seven starts for Pawtucket. He’s been consistent, throwing 42 innings with a 2.79 ERA. Shawaryn hasn’t exactly been overpowering, however, striking out 31 in his starts.

Another option might be Teddy Stankiewicz. He’s made three starts and been with the organization since being selected in the 2nd round back in 2013. Stankiewicz lacks strikeout numbers as well, collecting only 12 this season.

Outside of the organization, free agency offers very little hope. Dallas Keuchel is still out there, biding his time (and his money) for a chance to pitch in 2019. Keuchel is at the top of fans’ wish lists for many organizations but no club has yet to budge.

There are a couple of innings-eaters out there that might be nice, especially if the Red Sox offense continues to produce more eight-run games. People like James Shields and Yovani Gallardo are still out there on the market. While both haven’t exactly been at the top of their game for a few seasons, either one might provide depth.

Likely, Boston is awaiting the return of Steven Wright, who is currently serving an 80-game suspension for PED use. While this is a nice option, we’re still a couple of months away from his return.

Better to find the depth now before it becomes too late.