With some of the best starting pitching depth in baseball, the Red Sox had a plethora of options to fill Jake Peavy‘s now vacant rotation spot. They’ve made their choice; 24 year old right-hander Allen Webster will be called up to start for Boston in Sunday’s series finale against Tampa.
This will be Webster’s second taste of the Majors; his first did not go smoothly. He made seven starts and one relief appearance last year and got consistently rocked, posting an 8.60 ERA and walking nearly as many he struck out. Hitters were simply teeing off on the rookie; twice, he allowed seven earned runs or more and left before the end of the third, and he gave up seven home runs in just 30.1 innings – a HR/9 of 2.1.
But, as always, scouts were still enamored with Webster’s plus mid-90’s sinker and above average change up and slider, and he was included on most top 100 prospect lists. Baseball America had him at #88 and MLB.com pegged him at the 46th spot.
He’s given credence to those rankings in Triple-A Pawtucket this year, pitching to a 3.10 ERA and a 7.4 K/9 over 21 games (20 starts) and 122.0 innings. More importantly for Webster, who has long struggled with command, he’s posted his lowest walk rate – 3.2 BB/9 – since he was a 19 year old in rookie ball.
Webster was originally drafted by the Dodgers in the 18th round of the ’08 draft, but came over to Boston in the 2012 blockbuster that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez to Los Angeles.
In choosing Webster, the Red Sox passed over two of his teammates: 25 year old Brandon Workman, who has already posted a 4.50 ERA in 8 major league starts this season, and former first round pick Anthony Ranaudo, who owns a 2.41 ERA and is currently ranked by MLB.com as the organization’s ninth best prospect.
It was more of a utilitarian choice, though, than anything else. Webster was already scheduled to start on Sunday for Pawtucket, so he will enter Tropicana Field on normal rest. Workman and Ranaudo pitched on Thursday and Friday respectively, meaning they would have had to pitch on a ridiculous one or two days rest to make Sunday’s start. As such, its not clear if Boston actually prefers one of the other two starters over Webster and consequently, if he will actually hold on to a major league job for more than a day.