Felix Doubront has to hear the footsteps, because they are coming and coming fast. Whether it is Allen Webster or Rubby De La Rosa, Doubront will be pushed all season.
It wasn’t that Doubront’s first start for the Boston Red Sox last night was terrible, but it was just okay, and it highlighted the issues that he has continued to have as a starting pitcher.
He is inconsistent, unable to continually stay ahead of batters and have quick and clean innings. He managed to last just five innings on Friday, and still managed to throw 90 pitches and required reliever Koji Uehara to come into a man-on-second situation with no outs and get out of the inning.
What was more disappointing is that the Red Sox spotted Doubront a 4-1 lead and he couldn’t keep the Toronto Blue Jays, without Jose Bautista, at bay.
After coming to camp this spring overweight and out of shape, this is a very important season for the 25-year-old Doubront to hold down a spot in the rotation. The Red Sox finally have pitching depth, so if Doubront struggles and the team is in contention, they will not keep throwing him out there. He will have to earn it.
This isn’t a talent issue; Doubront has plenty of stuff to be a very effective middle-of-the-rotation starter for years to come. He won 11 games and averaged more than a strikeout per inning.
But, endurance has and continues to be an issue for the young lefty. In 29 starts last season, Doubront only managed 161 innings, putting too much strain on the bullpen. Add a 4.86 ERA and a high WHIP of 1.447 and the results are mixed.
The fact that his first start of 2013 was only five innings long is a continuation of last season. The Red Sox simply need more at this point. Five inning starts are too taxing on the bullpen over the course of a season.
Doubront will likely get the month of April to work through his issues and show he can pitch deeper into games. But, the Red Sox have options, and no longer will Doubront get the ball every five days unless he continues to earn it.