Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here... highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Felix Doubront showed up for spring training out of shape and lagging behind the Red Sox’ other starters, hardly the ideal first impression to make on new pitching coach Juan Nieves.
But six months later, the only doughnuts Doubront sees are on the scoreboard.
Against all odds, Doubront has joined John Lackey as the Sox’ most consistent starters, the lefty’s latest gem coming yesterday when he threw seven scoreless innings in a series-clinching 4-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Fenway Park. It marked Doubront’s 15th consecutive start in which he allowed no more than three earned runs, the longest such streak by a Sox pitcher since Tim Wakefield’s 17-game run in 1995.
Surprised? Don’t be, according to Nieves, who insists he saw this coming even in February.
“It was expected,” Nieves said. “This guy was behind the 8-ball for a while. We knew it in spring training. It was a matter of his stuff getting sharper, him getting more comfortable with his delivery, and this is what you see.”
Herald | Doughnuts by Felix Doubront
Well, add Felix Doubront to the list of Red Sox pitching prospects who I didn't believe in, and was wrong (if you're keeping track, that list is Justin Masterson, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and now Doubront. Whoops.).
Doubront has driven me crazy for his entire major-league tenure for the same reasons he has likely bothered the rest of you: He wouldn't just throw strikes. How many starts have we seen him in a jam in the 5th inning with 104 pitches under his belt? It seems like every one.
And now all of a sudden, he's become a rock in the rotation. Sure, he still has the occasional inconsistent outing, but who doesn't? His stuff is working, his fastball has life, and he's attacking the strike zone. You can't nibble and be successful these days, and he's finally understanding it. And it's fun to watch.
Getting ahead of ourselves: Should the Red Sox make the playoffs, how would you set up the rotation for a five-game series? Buchholz, obviously, would start if healthy...but beyond that, you could make arguments for any of the rest of Jon Lester, Ryan Dempster (well....), Jake Peavy, John Lackey, and Doubront, each for their own reasons. If it comes down to recent history, though, it would be hard to push Felix to the pen.
On page 2, an update on Matt Thornton's injury.
“I felt a little cramp at first, then it got worse,’’ Thornton said. “The last pitch got me pretty good.’’ Manager John Farrell said it was a “right oblique issue.’’ Thornton said he hoped the injury was minor, but couldn’t say with any certainty. He’ll be checked again by the Red Sox training staff after the team arrives in Houston for a three-game set against the Astros. “I think I should be OK and it’s minor,’’ he said, “but I never had anything like it before, so no idea.
ESPNBoston | Thornton leaves with oblique 'issue'
On the one hand, it sounds minor.
On the other hand, Matt Thornton is 36 years old.
The last thing we need is another bullpen injury, but don't get too worried about it just yet. For one thing, Thornton hasn't exactly been Goose Gossage back there. For another, help is on the way. Franklin Morales is recovering in Pawtucket, while other guys with major-league experience (including Allen Webster, Brandon Workman, Pedro Beato, Chris Carpenter, Jose Contreras, Jose de la Torre, Clayton Mortensen, Alex Wilson, and persona non grata Alfredo Aceves) litter the staff. We could get by if Thornton needed some time off.
Plus, we're only talking about a few weeks anyway. September 1st isn't that far away, and at that point we can call up all the bullpen help we could ever want.
Herald | Stephen Drew rediscovering comfort zone | Buckley: Ultimately, an unceremonious end for A-Rod | All's right in Shane Victorino's Red Sox world | Scandal's no worry here | Globe | D-Backs can't get key hit | Doubront strong again as Red Sox shut out Diamondbacks | Red Sox give John Farrell fitting 51st birthday gift: 4-0 win | CSNNE | Doubront comes through for Sox once again | Doubront, Red Sox shut down D-Backs, 4-0 | Red Sox role players help maintain heights | ESPNBoston | Felix Doubront blanks Diamondbacks as Red Sox cruise | Doubront all Farrell could ask for | Buchholz getting (dare we say it?) closer