Photo Credit: AP Photo / Chris O’Meara
The back of the Red Sox rotation has been a source of mystery due to the plethora of injuries. However, one Pawtucket arm has stepped up to fill a hole.
The Red Sox inked the reigning Mexican Pacific League Pitcher of the Year, Hector Velazquez, to a minor league deal in 2017. The signing was initially thought as a solid depth option within the organization as prospects such as Trey Ball and Henry Owens failed to meet expectations.
In addition to failed prospect depth, the Red Sox have dealt with the injury bug over the past few seasons. David Price experienced elbow trouble, Drew Pomeranz with forearm tightness, Steven Wright with shoulder surgery, Eduardo Rodriguez with knee problems, and the list continues.
Velazquez made his Boston Red Sox debut in 2017 against the Oakland Athletics – an outing that was largely forgettable.
The initial struggle was unusual as Velazquez had posted a 2.47 ERA in his last season with the Acereros de Monclova and a 2.21 ERA in Pawtucket. The numbers indicate the making of an infamous “4A” pitcher that may never experience success at the Major League level.
The Red Sox need for depth allowed for Velazquez to resurface in a long reliever role in 2017. The right hander allowed two earned runs over his final 7 outings to finish the season with a 2.92 ERA in Boston.
Entering 2018, Alex Cora has pegged Velazquez as the 5th member of the Red Sox rotation.
Alex Cora acknowledges, for right now, the Red Sox rotation is Sale, Price, Porcello, Johnson and Velazquez. Could change if Wright and/or Pomeranz is ready to open the season. Wright faces hitters Wednesday.
— Chad Jennings (@chadjennings22) March 12, 2018
The statement made by Cora suggests a variety of points.
1. Alex Cora is not content with the current state of the Red Sox rotation.
As Jennings mentions, there is a possibility for change, due to the injury bug that never ceases to leave the Red Sox alone.
2. Hector Velazquez is likely to begin the season in the rotation.
Cora has mentioned that Brian Johnson is likely heading to the bullpen, leaving Velazquez as the most likely candidate to remain in the rotation.
3. The door is not closed on Alex Cobb to Boston.
The Red Sox have a plethora of question marks, as mentioned, but signing Cobb would sure up the back end of the rotation.
Hector Velazquez provides the Red Sox with the option to drive down Cobb’s price, or save the cap space for the upcoming free agent class.
In Spring Training, Velazquez has posted a 4.91 ERA in 7.1 innings. Don’t stress Sox fans, this team has a bulldog at the end of the current rotation.
2018 has the makings of a breakout season for Hector Velazquez.