Ron Roenicke explains how Red Sox are finding a 5th starter

Rob Bradford
February 21, 2020 - 10:24 am
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez and Martin Perez. After that who is going to pitch in the Red Sox' starting rotation is a mystery.

It could be one guy or it could be a bunch of 'Openers' filling the spot. As we sit here, Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke is not locked into any specific approach.

"I really haven’t figured out with our personnel what would be a better way to do it," he said. "We’ve been talking with Chaim (Bloom) and BOH (Brian O'Halloran) and figuring what the possibilities are and I think we’re just going to play this out in spring and see what we have, we know the different options we have to go through. If you do an opener, if you just do one opener you have to figure out ok whoever that person who comes in, how does he fit in in those days between when that opener goes his fifth turn again. I think if you have a couple of openers it may be easier because you can actually set up something where you have two guys that fill in on these two days. So I’ll have to figure that out and it helps I think having Chaim to be really familiar with that type of scenario. So we’ll continue to look at it. There are advantages to not having maybe a lot weaker fifth starter but we’ll have to see how that plays out at the end of camp."

Of the candidates on the 40-man roster, Hector Velazquez and Ryan Weber are logical possibilities to start, with non-roster pitchers Brian Johnson and Tanner Houck seemingly in the mix. There are, however, a plethora of youngsters and newcomers with enough experience to contribute as an Opener. (See: Darwinzon Hernandez.)

For Roenicke, it is going to be somewhat of a race against time to figure it out.

"Some of these guys we brought in we really don’t know," the interim manager said. "So if you’re coming from an organization, at least I don’t know - our pro scouts know them well - but we really don’t know them so we have to get used to them and what they have. The reason we have them in camp is because our pro scouts have seen something in these guys and maybe what their recs say about how they should be pitching we think this guy could be way more successful if he instead of just going 15 percent cutters, maybe if he goes to 30 percent cutters maybe it changes this guy’s whole game. We try and listen to why we get these guys in camp, what we see, what our analytics department can do to help us in terms of what they see works better. And then you go by if we talk to that player and he buys into it and we something different maybe all of a sudden he becomes the piece that we’re looking for."