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Red Sox

Fire Sale Clears Way For Red Sox Young Arms In 2014

By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
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Red Sox pitching prospect Anthony Ranaudo.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Anthony Ranaudo. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — With their top two starting pitchers now on contending teams, the Boston Red Sox have a giant hole in their starting rotation.

You may be curious as to what the Boston rotation will look like the rest of the way, with Clay Buchholz now the elder statesman at the old age of 29. With 52 games left to go in a disappointing 2014 campaign, expect the Red Sox to focus on shaping their young arms of the future.

Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa have already taken their spot in the rotation this season, going a combined 4-8 with a 3.88 ERA. Allen Webster, who came to Boston in the August 2012 reset courtesy of the LA Dodgers, joined them last week, and is the last pitcher to record a win for the hapless Sox.

They’ll soon be joined by more of Boston’s kids of the future, starting Friday night when 24-year-old right-hander Anthony Ranaudo make his Major League debut at Fenway Park as Boston opens a three-game set against the New York Yankees.

Ranaudo, Boston’s first-round pick in the 2010 draft, will take the turn of John Lackey, who was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday as part of Boston’s deadline day fire sale. Ranaudo has been impressive for the Triple-A PawSox this season, going 12-4 with a 2.41 ERA in 21 starts, striking out 99 batters over 119.1 innings pitched. He was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year last season, and is 15-5 with a 2.53 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) in Triple-A.

So for now, the rotation (in no particular order) is Buchholz, Workman, De La Rosa, Webster and Ranuado. You can also pencil in newcomer Joe Kelly, who came over in the Lackey trade, and will likely start next Tuesday when the Sox are in St. Louis — and could actually face off against Lackey.

That rotation will likely be in flux for the remainder of the season, and Ranuado is just one of the youngsters we’ll likely see toeing the rubber for Boston the rest of the way. Some may take a turn in the rotation, and others will get some run out of the bullpen.

Two candidates to get a bump up to the majors this season include 24-year-old Matt Barnes and 21-year-old Henry Owens. Barnes, the 19th overall pick out of UConn in 2011, has struggled a bit in Pawtucket this season. He started the season on the disabled list with shoulder soreness, and has posted a 6-8 record with a 4.53 ERA in 17 games (16 starts). He has only walked 38 over 91.1 innings pitched while striking out 72 batters this season, and overall, Barnes is 18-23 with a 3.84 ERA and a 1.317 WHIP in his three years in the Boston system.

Owens, Boston’s top pitching prospect, will reportedly be called up to Pawtucket on Friday, and Fenway may not be far behind. The 6-7 lefty dominated his Double-A competition this season, going 14-4 with a 2.60 ERA for the Portland Sea Dogs. He struck out 126 batters over 121 innings, issuing just 47 walks and allowing 89 hits, and though he’ll need some time to work out a few kinks in Pawtucket, could find himself starting a major leauge game or two come September.

Thursday’s fire sale gives Boston the perfect opportunity to see what they have in their rather large collection of young pitching prospects the rest of the season — whether that be in the rotation or out of the bullpen. There will be plenty of lumps along the way as these young arms get their feet wet in the majors and experience the growing pains that go along with making that jump. But it’s an opportunity that the players should relish, and hope it gives the Red Sox a good look at what their future could hold.

Starting pitching will certainly be priority No. 1 (and No. 2 and likely No. 3) for Ben Cherington this offseason, but for now, he can kick back and let the kids show off what they’ve got.

MORE SPORTS COVERAGE FROM CBS BOSTON

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