BOSTON -- On the Fourth of July, the Red Sox have plenty to celebrate when considering their starting pitchers.
The group has the lowest combined earned run average (3.73) in the American League entering Thursday’s holiday matinee, along with the second highest total of innings pitched (519) among AL teams.
Against that backdrop, rookie Allen Webster (0-2) enters the Red Sox final home game before the All-Star break looking for his first Major League victory. After making single starts in his first two call-ups this season (April 21 vs. Kansas City and May 8 vs. Minnesota), Webster’s made incremental strides in his last three starts since returning to the majors on June 22.
His no-decision Friday against Toronto -- a 5-4 Red Sox win – was the best of the group, starting off shutting out the Blue Jays through four innings. He also set a career high with 100 pitches.
“[We want Webster] to continue what he’s done the last two starts and that is to settle in to the rhythm of the game,” manager John Farrell said pregame. “The one point of emphasis that we continue to make with him is just to get early strikes and not to feel like he’s got to be so fine in the strike zone, even against an aggressive hitting team like the Padres are.”
Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia found a recent template for which Webster can build on, citing a similar circumstance in Webster’s second career start against Minnesota on May 8 – an ugly 15-8 loss to the Twins.
“That was a very aggressive swinging team and he just missed over the plate,” Saltalamacchia said. “Then, against Detroit, it really was that one inning and then he settled down and threw well. Against Toronto, he had a little trouble and when he gets in trouble, it’s usually having a problem finding the strike zone.”
Saltalamacchia added that Webster, who was ejected from two of his PawSox starts for hit batsmen after his May 8 reassignement, just needs to continue letting the physical conquer the mental.
“He’s got such great stuff that he’s just got to let it play,” he said.
“The tools are all there and the stuff’s there, he’s throwing 97 with a 94-mile-per-hour changeup. He’s getting better every time out. It’s what you want to see.”