The Boston Red Sox have begun 2014 with Felix Doubront as the No. 3 starter in their rotation. After holding down the No. 5 spot the past two seasons, the 26-year-old is now entering his third full year in the big leagues. Is the talented lefty finally ready to make the most of his potential?
In 2012, Doubront posted an ERA of 4.86, and last season, he trimmed that down by over half a run to 4.32. A similar improvement this year could place him among the more successful starting pitchers in the American League.
Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston recently wrote the following about Doubront:
The left-hander came to camp in far better shape than a year ago, and may be on the cusp, at age 26, of a breakout season. He made some mechanical adjustments to tighten his delivery, and if he develops some greater consistency in his fastball command, he could be a big winner.
Doubront himself shares a similar outlook, via Mass Live's Jason Mastrodonato:
"This is a big year for me. I know that and I went into the offseason thinking that. I have to be strong, mentally and physically and try to be healthy the whole year. You never know what’s going to happen, but you have to be prepared."
However, there is an argument to be made that in Doubront's case it may actually be very easy to predict what is going to happen in 2014. With the exception of his ERA, Doubront has put up nearly identical numbers in each of the last two seasons:
Doubront's first start this year fell very much in line with what one might expect from looking at the above statistics. On April 3 in Baltimore, he allowed six hits, a walk and three earned runs in 5.1 innings pitched. His performance was nothing to write home about, but on that day, it was good enough to earn the victory.
Tuesday, Doubront will take the mound for the second time this season, facing the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park. A potent lineup that features multiple left-handed hitters, Doubront could easily shut them down, or get lit up—but chances are he'll give us something somewhere in between.
Even if Doubront doesn't make any major strides in 2014, in a rotation featuring veterans Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy, another campaign as a serviceable No. 5 starter should suit the Red Sox just fine.
Statistics courtesy of RedSox.com.