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The Boston Red Sox found themselves in a bit of a bind in the bullpen yesterday when they had to place Joel Hanrahan on the 15-day DL with a flexor pronator strain in his right forearm. Andrew Bailey (biceps tightness) landed on the DL the day before. As a result, the BoSox have shifted some things around, including moving Felix Doubront (3-1, 5.67 ERA and 14 BBs in 27 IP) from the rotation to the bullpen. Allen Webster, 23, was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket and will start against the Minnesota Twins today.
Springer in his step
Webster had made four starts for Pawtucket and was 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched. Last year between Double-A Portland and Double-A Chattanooga, he went a combined 6-9 with a 3.86 ERA and 129 K's in 130 2/3 frames (29 games, 24 starts). He started the year off slowly with Portland but finished very strong at Chattanooga.
He made a spot start for his major league debut on April 21 against the Kansas City Royals and went six innings while giving up five hits, two earned runs, walking one and fanning five. Scouts and evaluators are heralding Webster as the best arm in Boston's minor league system right now, and the 6-foot-2, 190-pound right-hander features a heater that reaches 100 mph. He complements that with a Derek Lowe-like sinker that induces a multitude of ground-ball outs when he's on his game. The one knock on Webster at this point has been his inability to throw strikes consistently; he sported a 4.2 BB/9 rate at Class AA last year.
That won't fly in the bigs or the American League East, but a 26-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his four starts at Pawtucket this year is a step in the right direction. There is serious upside here, and Webster has the potential to be a top-of-the-rotation hurler. On a team having success such as the Red Sox, that's very intriguing for fantasy owners looking for some wins.
It's a bit unclear if this will just be another spot start for Webster, however. John Farrell initially indicated that Doubront would likely return to the rotation after this week. The bullpen has been taxed recently and they feel he can temporarily give them the help they need there. Doubront has struggled recently in the rotation, though, so Webster may get to stick around, depending on how he fares tonight. Webster could easily perform well and run with the job, so he's worth considering in deep mixed leagues based on upside alone. AL-only leaguers should add him now and act accordingly depending on which direction Boston goes.
The Philadelphia Phillies are going with another in-house starting pitching option to replace Roy Halladay (shoulder inflammation) in the rotation. That name is Tyler Cloyd. He'll receive the nod versus the Arizona Diamondbacks this Friday. Cloyd has spent the past two seasons pitching for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, and he was 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 35 innings (six starts) this year. Last year, he went 12-1 with a 2.35 ERA and 93 punchouts in 22 starts. He received a September call-up in 2012 and went 2-2 and allowed 18 earned runs while striking out 30 in six starts.
Cloyd, 26 next week, doesn't come with a lot of flash. He throws his fastball in the upper 80s and occasionally touches 90 mph. A curveball and changeup round out his repertoire. He's a control-based pitcher that can get hit around if he fails to locate his pitches, as evidenced by a 10.3 hits-per-nine average in the minors this year. He was striking out more than eight hitters per nine this year, but he has a 7.3 career K/9 in six minor league seasons, so don't expect the K's to be flowing in a Phillies uni.
We don't know yet how long Philadelphia expects Halladay to be out, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him miss more than two weeks. The Phillies need to get him right, and they'll take all the time they need, most likely. Cloyd will have time to prove he is capable of holding down the fort in the meantime. John Lannan (knee) would normally be an option to challenge Cloyd for the job, but he's expected to be out until around the All-Star break.
Cloyd wasn't setting the world on fire at Class AAA this year and shouldn't be expected to dominate major league hitters once he arrives. He will, however, be a serviceable pitcher for those looking for pitching help in NL-only formats. Mixed-league owners can probably pass for now.
Two more big names arriving this year?
About Keith Hernandez
Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.
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