The end of the Red Sox four-man rotation offers Roenis Elias an opportunity.
Instead of Clay Buchholz returning from his relegation to the bullpen, John Farrell announced on Wednesday that Roenis Elias will greet the Mariners, his former team, for the opener of a three game series tonight at Fenway Park. Farrell attributed his choice of Elias, at least in part, to the potent left-handed sluggers in the Mariners lineup, most notably Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager.
Elias, 27, was acquired last off season in the trade that sent Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro to the Mariners in exchange for Elias and Carson Smith. At the time the deal looked like a steal for the Red Sox, but with Elias in Pawtucket and Smith having undergone Tommy John, Miley sounds pretty good as an inning eater in the back of the rotation. Instead it is time for Elias to step up.
Elias successfully made the harrowing voyage from Cuba to the U.S. in 2010, and in the following year began his career playing in rookie league for the Seattle Mariners before working his way up the minor league ranks to Double-A by the end of 2013. The next year Elias made the big league roster out of spring training as the Mariners fourth starter. That season he pitched to the tune of a 3.85 ERA in twenty nine starts before the Mariners shut him down in mid-September with an elbow strain. In 2015, Elias bounced between Seattle and their Triple-A affiliate, Tacoma, posting a 4.14 ERA in twenty two appearances for the big league team.
In a recent interview Dave Dombrowski noted that out of spring training they wanted Elias to find one consistent release point for his curveball. Instead of employing a breaking ball from three or four different arms spots, the Red Sox asked him to find the best one and throw it on a consistent basis in an attempt to refine his command.
This season on the east coast is a change for scenery for Elias,and he has pitched well for Pawtucket. In ten games, nine starts, he has a 3.54 ERA and 8.85 K/9, and in his last five starts he has been particularly sharp. He has focused on finding a consistent breaking ball this season with the PawSox and will need to use this pitch effectively tonight if he wants to keep the potent Mariners offense off balance.
Roenis Elias is presented with a great chance to prove himself tonight at Fenway and, given the state of the Red Sox rotation right now, can earn himself another start if he pitches well. The Red Sox pitching staff is club’s biggest weakness right now, and an emergence from this Cuban south paw would help the team immensely as Dombrowski tries to patch together a reliable rotation before the August 1st trade deadline.