Allen Webster to start for Red Sox on Sunday

July 26, 2014 - 3:41 pm

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The pitching staff in Triple-A Pawtucket has been performing at a tremendous level across the board. The Red Sox could have made a case for any number of starters to join the rotation with right-hander Jake Peavy having been dealt to the Giants on Saturday, something that will necessitate a replacement on Sunday. Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo is 12-4 with a 2.41 ERA, and complete dominance over a two-month stretch. Brandon Workman has long commanded the trust and confidence of the big league staff; he's 3-0 with a 2.81 ERA in three starts since being sent down earlier this month. Knuckleballer Steven Wright has been arguably the most dominant of all the hurlers in Pawtucket, having gone 5-1 with a 2.37 ERA in his 10 starts since coming off the DL. But in the end, the call for a Sunday call-up was obvious. Wright pitched on Wednesday, Workman on Thursday and Ranaudo on Friday. And so, another well-qualified candidate -- Allen Webster -- will get the ball on his normal day to start, at a time when he's achieved a form of consistency that eluded him in 2013 in his first year in Triple-A (and the big leagues). Webster is 4-4 with a 3.10 ERA in 21 games (20 starts). He's allowed three or fewer runs in 19 of those appearances. In his most recent outing, he tossed seven innings (the sixth time this year he's pitched into at least the seventh) while permitting three runs; he's gone from being a five-inning pitcher in 2013 to a six-plus inning pitcher this year. Though his strikeout rate has been rather modest (7.4 per nine innings), that reflects an increased willingness to pitch to contact and navigate some efficient at-bats, resulting in the innings increase. Webster has been in the conversation for a call-up all year; the move of Peavy represented an opportunity to bring him up for at least one start. "At the time when [Rubby De La Rosa] came up, it was either Allen or Rubby, take your pick. So he has been able to maintain the overall command of stuff [better] than a year ago," said Sox manager John Farrell. "And has got another 20-plus starts under his belt at the Triple-A level, which when you take back last year, when you look back last year, his year at Triple-A was a very good one for us. In the process of transitioning to our level here." Farrell declined to say whether Webster would remain in the rotation going forward. The Sox have some different moving parts at work: The possibility that another starter (Jon Lester, for example) could be traded in the coming days, which would open a rotation spot for another call-up; the desire to see other pitchers in the big leagues, particularly Workman and Ranaudo; the question of how Webster performs. But ultimately, Sunday represents a furtherance of the Sox' commitment over the duration of the year to begin evaluating their young starters to determine who will offer the best candidate to contribute for next season. So begins the focus on the future.