Spring training is coming to an end and the Red Sox season is about to begin. A lot can be taken from the Red Sox 2017 spring training, however, like every team, there are still a handful of questions coming into April for the Sox.
A pivotal remaining question is one I previously touched upon, starting pitching depth.
The Red Sox depth starters of Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, and Roenis Elias still loom large with how much they will be able to provide, especially after a rather poor spring from Owens and Johnson.
- Henry Owens in 4 appearances, 7.1 innings pitched, is 0-3 and has a 15.95 ERA, a 3.41 WHIP, and an opponent batting Avg. of .382.
- Brian Johnson in 3 appearances, 6.2 innings pitched, is 0-2 and has a 5.40 ERA, a 2.55 WHIP, and an opponent batting Avg. of .367.
We have seen a solid spring out of Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez, however, the persistent concerns on Drew Pomeranz’s health (now on the 10-Day DL to begin the season) and the strength of David Price’s elbow leaves a little room for concern. During a 162-game season, injuries aside, you can guarantee that our starting pitching depth will come into play, but just how much will the team need to rely on depth remains a big unknown factor.
The next question is what is the Red Sox going to see from Pablo Sandoval in the regular season?
He has lost weight, looks quicker, better range, and is hitting the ball. He looks like a different player this spring. He is currently sporting a .350/ .361/ .700 slash line with 5 home runs, 6 doubles, 20 RBIs in only 19 spring training games. Could we see a player who is closer to the player the Red Sox hoped to get for a five-year, $95 million deal? Who knows? But, this is definitely a good start to a long road he will need to continue on he wishes to be considered close to worthy. And if things don’t work out, at least the team has a strong-ish backup option in Brock Holt.
One other question that the Red Sox will have heading into the 2017 season is just how strong will the bullpen be?
You have Craig Kimbrel who posted a career-worst 3.40 ERA, with a great 14.1 K/9 rate and only blew 2 saves out of 33 opportunities. It was a strong showing, but not the one Red Sox fans had hoped for. It could have been a readjustment period for the elite pitcher who was just “good” last year. But, a readjustment sooner rather than later is necessary. Then there is Tyler Thornburg who hasn’t shown Red Sox nation much of anything yet. Can he be trusted in a setup role after he comes back from the DL? These are the two biggest questions of the bullpen, although, they are not the only unknowns. What type of pitcher will the Red Sox see out of Joe Kelly? Can he be the dominant pitcher that we have gotten a small glimpse of in the past? How will Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, and Robbie Ross Jr. each perform this season? Only time will tell. However, having the bullpen have the third lowest amount of innings tossed last year (470.1 IP), with the worries and or reality of the team’s starting pitching depth, much of the team’s success or failures will be found here.
There are always questions heading into the season and these are just a few main ones to keep in mind come April 3rd. This is one of the exciting and nerve-wracking parts about spring training. It gets you excited, hopeful, and nervous. It’s been a strong pre-season and we will only have to wait and see how all of these questions get answered. It will be an interesting ride indeed.