Few could have expected the Red Sox’s fourth starter to be the most consistent member of the rotation. Not with proven power arms like Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz.
Yet through two months of the season, Felix Doubront has been a more reliable pitcher than all of them.
Following a 7-4 Memorial Day victory over the Tigers—in which he allowed four hits and two runs in six innings and struck out six (including two punch-outs of Miguel Cabrera)—Doubront leads the Sox rotation in wins (5), ERA (3.86) and strikeouts (59).
How much of a surprise has the Venezuelan lefty been? Even his manager has been caught off guard.
Doubront’s increasing reliability has been the highlight of an up-and-down season for Boston’s rotation.
Beckett appears to be rounding into form, but his fickleness with fans and the media makes him a volatile commodity. Lester is yet to string more than two straight quality starts together. Buchholz has been beaten up (.328 opponents’ batting average) more often than not. And new starter Daniel Bard has yet to exhibit consistent control of his pitches.
If Boston wants to climb out of the American League East cellar and contend for a postseason berth, those four have to settle down and start delivering on a regular basis.
For now, their collective struggle has magnified Doubront’s potential as a long-term member of Boston’s rotation. With a power arsenal, a deceptive delivery and a steadily improving command of his pitches, Doubront could pay major dividends this season and down the road should the Red Sox choose to sign him beyond his current one-year deal.
Even if that means continuing to surprise the Red Sox brass and fans each time he takes the mound.