Lats night the Red Sox saw starter Joe Kelly leave with a right shoulder inpingment and will surely see time on the DL. That means with Eduardo Rodriguez still not ready to return the Red Sox will need to turn to someone with likely candidates being Henry Owens and Brian Johnson both currently in Triple-A.
This decision won’t have to be made right away since Kelly’s spot won’t come up again for 4 days so the first response will probably be a call up to help the bullpen after having them pitch the whole game last night. That said eventually they will need to make the call and it’s likely to be one of those two pitchers.
The obvious choice is Henry Owens with his big strikeout numbers,
but so far those have not translated to the majors yet. Even last year at Triple-A he had a sudden loss of punch outs and saw his K/9 at only 7.58 in 122 innings pitched. For someone who was near 10 to 11 strikeouts before that his sudden drop is troublesome.
For many pitchers a strikeout rate around 8 or 9 would be fine, but Owens has a big problem with walks. In his time at Triple-A and the majors he has averaged around four walks per nine innings. That would be fine if he was still reaching 11 strikeouts every nine innings but right now it’s going to be trouble.
On the other hand Brian Johnson is now 25 years old and might be in more need of proving if he is going to make this team. He has had similar strikeout numbers to Owens in Triple-A around 8 every nine innings, but Owens is still viewed as a better swing and miss producing pitcher with talent to get back to 10 to 11 K/9.
Johnson here has better control with BB/9 around 3 in his time in Triple-A. His pedigree is as a control pitcher with good location so being able to get better at linviting his walks is something I would expect from him.
The Red Sox in my opinion should go with the solid if not spectacular option here. Johnson is pegged as a solid prospect who should pitch in the middle of a rotation or toward the back of it. Owens could have a slightly higher ceiling, but I would prefer him to iron out his control a bit more before his call up.
As we have seen with the pitching so far not having your control and walking hitters is an easy path to trouble. That said Johnson or Owens would only have a small window until Rodriguez returns unless Clay Buchholz or Steven Wright pitch very poorly.