Examining the Red Sox options for No. 5 Starters

This four-man rotation thing has been working out pretty well for the Red Sox. But this week, they are going to have to reintroduce a fifth starter into the rotation.

June 18 the Red Sox will need a fifth starter. And right now, it is unclear who said person will be. The game is a home Saturday affair against the Seattle Mariners at 4:05 p.m. EST.

If it is any indication, the Mariners are hitting .246 with a .732 OPS against lefties this year and .267 with a .788 OPS against righties this year. The Sox may be best-suited to go with a lefty on Saturday — although Fenway does favor right-handed batters. But here is a quick look at all of the candidates:

Clay Buchholz — He pitched his way out of the rotation with a 6.35 ERA in ten starts. He hasn’t been great in relief either.

But Sandy Leon is on the big big league club and Buchholz had a 2.48 ERA in games where Leon caught him last year. Interesting. His biggest asset right now is that he is already on the big league club.

Joe Kelly — He throws gas. He was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket. And he’s on the Disabled List. Would have been good but not an option right now. Next.

Roenis Elias — He started the year slow and had a terrible relief outing for the Sox back in April. But lately, the southpaw has pitched better. He has gone deep into games and owns a 1.92 ERA in his last four outings (28.1 innings) while striking out 28.

A lefty, who went 15-20 with a 3.99 ERA in 49 starts from 2014-2015, he is not a bad option. Keep in mind though, he was pitching half his games at Safeco Field. His ERA isn’t as special as it looks.

William Cuevas — Since being sent back down to Pawtucket, he has been dominant. The righty, a flyball pitcher, might not be the best choice for Fenway Park. But he has a 1.95 ERA in his last eight starts for the PawSox with 35 strikeouts in 50.2 innings.

Defensively, the Red Sox have a strong outfield and while he might not be the best choice for Fenway, he is a quality arm.

Sean O’Sullivan — The Sox retained O’Sullivan and he has allowed just three earned runs in his last two starts since rejoining the PawSox (1.80 ERA in 15 innings). He has sharp command. But he pitches to contact and his stuff is underwhelming.

The Red Sox are fortunate to have him as depth. But he is 12-23 with a 6.03 ERA in his big league career with a .305 batting average against. If you’re in a pennant race, he probably shouldn’t be in your rotation.

He’s not on the 40-man roster either which doesn’t help at all.

Henry Owens — With a fastball sitting at 88 mph and poor command, Owens somehow owns a 4.66 ERA in 14 career big league starts.

He’s been “effectively wild” despite not overpowering anyone. But he owns a 5.58 ERA in his past six outings for the PawSox. And on the year, he has walked 5.66 batters per nine inning. In all, he has issued 35 walks in 55.2 innings. And he has hit seven batters — a figure that metric does not account for.

He’s a lefty. And he spent the last two months of 2015 in the team’s rotation. Familiarity could be his key in.

Aaron Wilkerson — He’s made just four starts in Triple-A. But he’s been excellent. He throws strikes. And in his past four outings for the PawSox (three starts), the righty owns a 1.40 ERA with three walks and 25 strikeouts in 19.1 innings.

The Red Sox probably aren’t going to rush him because he only pitched above Double-A on five occasions. And he is not on the 40-man roster.

Wilkerson is a name to remember though. He’s 33-9 in his career as a pro pitcher.

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