Now that Clayton Richard is pitching for the Padres, the Sox have a bit of a problem at the back end of their rotation.
Jake Peavy will eventually return from his ankle injury, but the Sox only have four proven starters until he comes back. Even in a best case scenario, the Sox will need a fill-in for at least three starts.
The first such start will be on Saturday, and the Sox haven't figured out who will be pitching yet.
Here's a quick run-down of their options:
The favorite- D.J. Carrasco
Carrasco has been relatively effective as their long reliever all season and picked up the emergency start on the day the trade was made. He has a 3.95 ERA on the season, though his WHIP is a little high at 1.46.
I really think that the Sox would like to use Carrasco in this role rather than calling up someone else for only a few outings. Ozzie seems to have faith in him and he has by far the most experience of their potential starters.
However, they may not be able to use him every outing. He's still their primary long reliever and it could strain the bullpen if they take him out of that role. Carrasco isn't likely to go deep into games, so any poor outings from the other starters (I'm looking at you, Jose) would put them in a tough spot.
He already pitched four innings in relief last night, and if he has to pitch again before the weekend they will likely have to call up someone else to start.
The top fill-in choice- Carlos Torres
I think that Torres will likely end up getting the job, with Johnny Nunez going back to the minors.
Torres already picked up a start this season, filling in for John Danks due to blister issues. Though he put some runners on, he pitched out of trouble and ended up with a decent outing. He went six innings and allowed only three runs in a win against Tampa Bay.
Though it's debatable how useful he will be in the long term, it looks like he can get the job done for a few starts. He's been highly successful in Charlotte this year, posting a 2.21 ERA in 110 innings.
Other fill-in options- Wes Whisler and Jack Egbert
I'm personally not thrilled with either of these guys, but they're probably next in the pecking order. Both have made brief appearances in the majors before (neither of them successfully), and Whisler was specifically mentioned by Don Cooper in an article by Joe Cowley.
Neither of these guys appears to be in the organization's long term plans. They're both 26 and appear to be AAA caliber players at this point. I would think that Torres would get a shot long before these two, but the Sox also appear to be desperate.
The dark horse- Dan Hudson
Yes, this would be a massive leap for Hudson and he may not be ready. However, he wouldn't be the first prospect to arrive at the majors much earlier than expected this season. Assistant GM Rick Hahn threw his name out as a possible option on The Score AM 670 earlier this week.
He started the year in low-A Kannapolis but is currently dominating in AA Birmingham.
The stats are ridiculous. In his nine starts since the promotion, he has an ERA of 1.60, a WHIP of 0.83, and 63 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings. Granted Birmingham is a pitcher friendly park, but that's still pretty impressive.
Personally, I doubt the Sox would throw him into the fire quite this soon. However, he has by far the most talent and highest upside of any of their options to fill the fifth starter role.
Not a realistic option right now- Freddy Garcia
Based on what I've read, Freddy Garcia is not a candidate to be called up right now.
In the previously mentioned Joe Cowley article, Don Cooper also commented on Freddy Garcia. This is what he said:
"Freddy won't be ready for that,'' Cooper said. "Freddy probably needs at least three more [starts] for us to start saying, 'OK, let's see where he is right now.' He's still getting his feet and legs underneath him. Freddy is up to five innings, 60 pitches, and his velocity was 87-88 mph average. We know that Freddy is hard balls and smarts, and we know his curveball, slider, changeup will be there, because they're always there, he can throw them on Christmas morning. It's a little more game stuff for him, making sure legs are under him and arm is strong. He's further along than where Jake is, but Jake didn't have an arm injury, Freddy did."
It doesn't sound like they will even consider for at least two more weeks.
The Sox will have to make a decision in the near future. I would be very surprised if Carrasco or Torres doesn't get the first shot at any available starts.