It’s time to give Jalen Beeks a shot.
What began as probably the Red Sox’ biggest strength at the beginning of the season has turned into a bit of an issue, and has been put on blast in this series vs. the Astros. The ‘Stros can throw out an ace every single night, while Drew Pomeranz, who has all but pitched himself out of the rotation, is out here giving up bombs left and right.
It begs the question of who should replace Pomeranz in the rotation, should he be sent the bullpen. Steven Wright may be the obvious choice, and we saw how good he can be when he’s healthy and was an all star in 2016. Hector Velazquez has been serviceable out of the pen, similar to Wright, with an ERA hovering around two, but he’s 29 and his ceiling is probably limited and nothing above a short term #5. Brian Johnson has had his moments as well, but is ultimately unreliable.
None of those guys are your long term answer, but if you take a trip down 95, you’ll find a guy who’s more than a long term number 5 starter. Beeks has dominated at the AAA level with a pretty bad Pawtucket team, posting a 2.56 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and .197 opponent batting average. He’s struck out 80 and walked just 14 in 56.1 innings across 10 starts. He dominated the AA level last season as well before getting the call to Pawtucket with a 2.19 ERA and made a good transition to AAA, with a 3.86 ERA in 17 starts. The number that stands out is the strikeouts: the lefty had 155 Ks in 145 innings combined between AA and AAA and is well on pace to smash that this season. For you mathematicians at home, that’s more than a punchout per inning.
This from SoxProspects.com:
“Throws from the first base side of the rubber. High three-quarters arm slot. Stiff delivery with a lot of moving parts, though his delivery is a lot cleaner and easier now than when he signed. Comes set with his hands just below his belt and brings them back up with a high leg kick. Used to have a trunk twist and rocked back at the height of his delivery, but those became less pronounced during the 2017 season. As his hands break, he brings his left arm behind his back leg with a wrist hook. As he delivers, his front foot gets down early and the arm lags behind, creating added stress on the arm and making it difficult to locate. All this movement and rigidness creates deception, and coupled with his quick arm out front makes it tough to pick up the ball out of his hand”
He doesn’t have ground breaking velocity – he’ll top out at about 95 and averages in the low 90s to high 80s – and throws a changeup, cutter, and curveball along with the fastball. The low velocity may scare fans after Henry Owens did nothing to live up to his hype, but Beeks’strikeout and walk rates are far better and show that Beeks has the stuff the to make up for his lower velocity.
The timing couldn’t be better. Beeks’ confidence is probably through the roof, he’s dominated AAA for 2 months now, and there is a spot calling his name in Boston’s rotation. Best case is that he comes up, pitches well, and claims a spot in the rotation. Fantastic, you’ve upgraded your rotation internally and strengthened your pitching depth without having to give up an asset. Worst case is he doesn’t pitch well, likely in multiple starts as they wouldn’t call the experiment after just one start, and goes back down to Pawtucket for a few more months. Give him a shot, it can’t hurt.
With Jay Groome recovering from Tommy John, and Michael Chavis suspended for PED use, Beeks’ is probably the Red Sox most exciting prospect, and with Pomeranz struggling the way he is, there is no better time to give the 24 year old a shot, and really the only downside is losing a game that Pomeranz likely would have lost you anyway with the way he’s pitching.
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