Strain on the rotation

With one out in the bottom of the 5th inning John Lackey delivered a 2-2 pitch to Jose Reyes. The pitch, the 75th of his first appearance for the Red Sox in over a year following Tommy John surgery, would be his last.

Reports currently suggest it’s just a bicep strain and after the game Lackey was putting a positive spin on the situation. An MRI today should confirm the extent of injury and the time frame for recovery.

So who could replace Lackey as the fifth starter?

Alfredo Aceves made a few starts in 2011 and was stretched out in Spring training. Most of the current speculation has him taking on the role.  I’ve made my thoughts clear about Aceves as recently as last week, needless to say I don’t believe he’ll be more effective than he was when he entered last nights game plus I’d much rather see another pitcher get the chance.

At Triple A Pawtucket the Red Sox have two interesting, and better, options in Steven Wright and Allen Webster.

Wright, the knuckleball throwing righty, had some issues mechanically in Spring training but Farrell was positive about him making an impact this year.  In his only appearance for Pawtucket so far, he pitched four innings giving up two runs on four hits.  He did have 4 walks in that outing, something that could be troublesome against better opposition.

Webster, acquired from the Dodgers in the Nick Punto trade, would be my choice to replace Lackey.  It’s ahead of schedule in his development, but with Jackie Bradley Jr. the Red Sox have shown that isn’t a problem.  The adage “If you’re good enough, you’re old enough” seems to be in play.  Webster is certainly good enough, Baseball America ranked him as Boston’s 4th best prospect saying he “turns bats into kindling” and in his first appearance for Pawtucket he pitched five shutout innings against Yankees affiliate Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

If Lackey is out for an extended period, we might see a move for a veteran pitcher to allow Wright and Webster their planned minor league development time. What’s Paul Byrd up to these days?

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