The Red Sox optioned Allen Webster back to Triple A Pawtucket after he was rocked by the Minnesota Twins for eight runs over 1 2/3 innings. Manager John Farrell indicated that was the plan all along.
Felix Doubront, Farrell said, would stay in the rotation. That despite Doubront giving up six runs on 12 hits over 5 1/3 innings against the Twins.
“We haven’t come off that initial plan, which is Felix starting the next time through,” Farrell said. “Physically everything checks out.”
The Red Sox are off Monday, which would allow them to skip Doubront. They would not need a fifth starter until May 18 in Minnesota.
Doubront’s fastball was 88-89 miles per hour against the Twins, hitting 92 once. That’s a significant drop from last season, when he averaged 92.8 m.p.h and topped out at 95.
“The one thing that’s a little concerning with Felix is that while he’ll get ahead of certain hitters, [he'll[ still lack the ability to put some guys away. We’ve seen that the last two outings from him,” Farrell said.
Of the 12 hits Doubront allowed on Wednesday, five came on two-strike pitches. Three were after Doubront was ahead 0-and-2. The Twins started the night 13th in the American League in runs scored and had a team batting average of .239.
Doubront has a 6.40 earned average after giving up 12 earned runs on 24 hits over nine innings in his last two outings.
There are two issues at play here:
• It would be foolhardy to give up on a 25-year-old lefty who showed vast potential last season. Doubront has indeed pitched poorly this season and did not help his career by showing up for spring training out of shape. But the Sox have a longer leash than that.
• Doubront is out of options. So sending him to the minors would mean placing him on waivers and he is unlikely to clear.
The alternative would be to pitch Doubront in relief and use another pitcher in the rotation. The Sox will have some choices to make if he continues to throw what amounts to batting practice.