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Why it's time to remember Felix Doubront

Rob Bradford
September 12, 2018 - 10:58 am

Felix Doubront has been released from his team in Korea. The 30-year-old, who was last seen stateside pitching for Oakland's Triple-A team last season, hadn't been doing well, not making it out of the fourth inning any of his three previous starts.

So it seems like a good time to remember what Doubront did in his time with the Red Sox. Why? Because we could be seeing a mirror image of the pitcher's progression in just a few weeks.

Between the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Doubront made a combined 56 starts, often times showing the kind of potential that had then-pitching coach Juan Nieves predicting the lefty would evolve into a 20-game winner. But by the time the '13 regular season came to a close he was being taken out of the starting rotation and slotted in for bullpen duty.

In his second-to-last regular season outing and his final start of the 2013 season, Doubront allowed just two runs over seven innings. But considering his struggles in the previous September starts the one performance wasn't going to change his path. The problem was that in his first foray into relieving Doubront allowed five runs over 1 1/3 innings. Not exactly what John Farrell and Co. were looking for.

But Doubront still made the postseason roster.

After not pitching in the American League Division Series he turned in a pair of key performances in Games 3 and 4 against Detroit, pitching a scoreless inning in each. Then in the World Series Doubront managed two more flawless frames in Game 3 against the Cardinals before getting the Game 4 win with 2 1/3 innings.

The moral of the story is that sometimes a starter who seems to be on the outs can re-emerge as a key contributor out of the bullpen when the postseason rolls around. That certainly seems to be a progression the Red Sox are eyeing when it comes to Nathan Eovaldi.

Eovaldi got his first crack at throwing out of the bullpen with the Red Sox Tuesday night, cruising through three scoreless innings before allowing a pair of runs in his fourth frame. And while he is slated to start Tuesday in New York, it certainly seems the righty is destined to help out in the bullpen when the postseason rolls around. And, as Doubront exhibited, can potentially be a big deal.

Derek Lowe offers another example.

This was a starter who limped to the finish line in 2004, giving up a .471 batting average against in his final four starts of the regular season, totaling a 13.94 ERA. But thanks to a 10th inning in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Angels Lowe got a chance to pitch a scoreless inning. That gave the sinkerballer a chance to make three postseason starts, which resulted in three wins, a 1.96 ERA and a big free agent payday.

Consider it the Felix Doubront reminder, one which Eovaldi might be resurfacing once again.