ST. LOUIS - If not him, then who?
The Red Sox are dipping further into their thin starting pitching depth this week, scheduling righty Hector Velazquez to start Thursday in Oakland.
Velazquez was signed out of the Mexican League over the winter for $30,000, a price that can escalate depending on his time in the big leagues.
The Sox would surely love to pay more for Velazquez — if that means they, in fact, have a reliable pitcher. He doesn’t throw hard, but has a strong mix of pitches and was doing very well at Triple-A Pawtucket, with a 1.55 ERA, 20 strikeouts and five walks in 29 innings.
Kyle Kendrick’s big league stint did not work out. Kendrick could get another shot, but he’d be hard to sell as a viable long-term option right now. So the Sox move down the short list to Velazquez.
After him, there seems only one other Triple-A pitcher in the major league mix: Brian Johnson.
Arguably, the Sox already need one starting pitcher to emerge. How Velazquez fares, therefore, could impact their trade deadline approach.
One of the reasons his signing was smart was because he’s not entirely green at age 28, but has minor league options. He can be sent to the minors and recalled freely.
So much about the Sox rotation depends on David Price, who may return to the majors after his Pawtucket start Friday. But even if Price comes back healthy and effective, the Sox could use a sense of reliability from their No. 6 starter, so to speak. And even their fifth, if you want to really get ambitious.
Lefty Drew Pomeranz is set to throw a bullpen tomorrow after his left triceps scare Sunday. Maybe Pomeranz is fine. But he’s also hard to believe in as a long term option right now, if for no other reason than his history of health issues.
Velazquez was a smart, low-risk signing by the Sox that might not prove fruitful right away, if ever. But if it doesn’t work out this go-around, the 2017 Sox don’t have many other places to turn for rotation help aside from the trade market.